Estoril is situated on the coast about 40kms west of Lisbon, Portugal.
The riders were put up in a beautiful 5 star hotel and with 30 degree temperatures, the swimming pool and deck chairs were occupied by the top 30 riders during the day, trying to top up their farmers' tans as the jumping was at night!
Unusually the show was only two days long and with only two classes a day it seemed a long way to travel. However with the big money on offer last night most of the worlds top combinations lined out.
The Global Champions Tour is an extraordinary concept and Jan Tops' brain child has without doubt raised the bar and basically forced the FEI to improve the Meydan Nations Cup league in order to be able to stay with the GCT.
Having said that however, I can't help feel when I'm at these shows that it is solely geared around the Grand Prix. The other classes although offering prize funds between 20-25k are somewhat of non-events i.e. many not trying or saving for the bigger pot. Perhaps it would be an idea to have a little less money in the Grand Prix in order to spread it out to the other classes and therefore creating good sport and better atmosphere over the weekend and not just in one competition.
K Club Lady is learning all the time. If selected, my next goal is to jump her on the Nations Cup team in Aachen, the second round of which is at night time under lights.
As I only have her 3 months and also as I like to leave no stone unturned one of the main reasons I brought her to Estoril was for a dry run under lights. Some horses don't take to it at all and can be very spooky, but the mare was fantastic and jumped a super clear round in the Grand Prix on Saturday night.
In the second round she jumped all the hard lines very well but was unlucky in just touching the middle part of the combination for 4 faults, finishing 8th and picking up €6000 for our efforts.
It's incredible really and far beyond my expectations what we have achieved as a partnership in only 12 weeks - 3rd in the Grand Prix in Lummen, 8th in the Grand Prix in Hagen, 3rd in the Nations Cup in Rome, jumping a clear in the 2nd round, 4th in the Nations Cup in St. Gallen, 2nd in the Grand Prix in St. Gallen and 8th in the Grand Prix in Estoril.
I am very conscious of planning my campaign methodically and knowing when to say 'no' and decline an invitation, such as Cannes and Monte Carlo. It is important to have long and medium term goals and to not get distracted with the day to day temptations of jumping at every dog fight.
K Club Lady and I have jumped ourselves into a very strong position, and now we must consolidate that and continue to deliver on the big day.
Next weekend I've no show but will go to Geesteren in Holland to help Ahmed, my Egyptian pupil and work my own horses also.
Check back next week for more news.