Just returned from Abu Dhabi where things didn't quite go according to plan.
I have to say that for the first time running the show the organisers did a good job and I've no doubt the show will develop and improve for next year.
The trip itself was difficult enough for the horses. Not so much the flight itself but more the transport from the airport to the show in horseboxes they weren't used to, and in extreme heat - I think the horses found that tough. Thankfully though for the return journey we were able to commandeer, through an Irish contact in Dubai, a truck that would be more similar to the ones the horses travel in all the time.
Rancorrado jumped amazingly well in the first round of the Nations' Cup. He clipped the back pole of the middle part of the combination, and I have to take the blame for that as I sat too quiet. As I was warming up for the second round he over-reached on landing after a fence and I was therefore forced to withdraw.
He'll be fine in a few days, but because of the bruising around the over-reach I took the decision to withdraw him from the rest of the show. Sometimes these are hard decision to take and some would argue that he would have been OK if I'd jumped him, but it's a long season and I wouldn't take any chances with a horse as good as this.
In the end the Irish team finished 7th in the Nations' Cup and we were able to donate our €4,000 prize money to the relief fund for Haiti, as promised. It's just a pity we couldn't give more.
For sure it's a pain in the ass to have travelled all that way and only to have jumped one round but I suppose I can't complain given the run of success I've had lately. The horses are coming home now and will have a four-week break which gives me the opportunity to give my clinics around Ireland and abroad and indeed present the workshops at Waterside, the next of which is taking place this Saturday, the 13th.
As I won't have much competition news to report on over the next month, I will continue to write a blog offering various opinions on different aspects of the sport.