The six day international show at Spruce Meadows Calgary was an amazing success. The Southern family along with their team run a very tight ship but really go all out to make every aspect of the show gold standard.
Sponsorship in these tough economic times is difficult everywhere but they seem to have managed to keep the sponsors coming because they give them great bang for their buck. For instance, the sponsors are brought into an enclosed area within the arena to watch the show, and the prize giving ceremony is a major production, with the sponsor getting plenty of kudos and meeting all the world's best riders. Most importantly the Spruce Meadows team make their own tv production which is broadcast throughout the world, giving the sponsor maximum exposure.
From the riders' point of view the whole thing from start to finish is extremely well organised - the arenas are big and beautiful, the jumps a little different than we see at most shows in Europe which I think is nice - long poles with imposing fillers. Overall these people know how to run a world class event and every year they're trying to raise the bar.
Rancorrado performed really well throughout the week. He was 4th in the 1m60 class jumping double clear on Wednesday, also clear in the BMO Nations' Cup on Saturday and unfortunately on Sunday incurred eight faults in the CN International Grand Prix.
I have to say, though, on Sunday he jumped probably his best even though the score mightn't have indicated so. I made a mistake to the water fence by leaving him too far off and he just landed short of the tape, he also touched a skinny fence which was on very light cups and fell easily. He jumped all the hard stuff really well, but it was a pity to miss out on the big prize money on offer.
I'm just heading off to Cavan this morning for the six-day national show where myself and Mark Kinsella will be competing. Check back on Sunday night to see how we got on.