Just returned home from a long week at the Dublin Horse Show. It's my 14th year competing in Dublin's international classes and I would have to say the show is developing and improving each year. This by far was the best show the RDS equestrian committee and staff ever put on.
Each year they seem to make improvements and in my book it now surpasses many of the top shows around the world. The main arena is second to none - each year the show has some new fences and the ring is a spectacle in itself with the unique themed jumps and the flowers making it all look very special.
I think the greatest asset the Dublin Horse Show has over other shows is the public that come in their droves to support everybody. Following Holland's victory in the Nations' Cup the crowd were cheering them like it was their own, which is unique to see.
It was a great show for all the Irish riders, winning a total of six international classes, and it was great to see the Leading Rider prize go to Paul O'Shea ,who is probably one of the hardest-working riders on the circuit and had a great show.
For my part I'm pleased to say that he spent some of his early years training with me and it's great to see it benefitted him to get to this level.
In terms of my own week I was reasonably happy. It can be always better but then it could have been worse too. Splendor was unlucky with four faults in both jump-offs in the main events on the first two days, denying him second place on both occasions.
K Club Lady was fantastic in the Nations' Cup. I would consider us still a relatively green partnership and she is learning her trade at the bigger obstacles. I learnt this week, for instance, that I need to use less leg pressure in order to jump the width of the oxers. She jumped a second super round clear in the Aga Khan to help the team finish second and we got a roaring cheer from the home crowd.
The following evening I took joint first on Noctumble Courcelle in the Puissance competition with Pablo Barrios. It's always a super class and the crowd love it. When I was going into the arena for the final two rounds you could have heard a pin drop and you just want to get over that wall to please the fans who were all on the edge of their seats.
Land Rover's support of this competition is much appreciated and it is a class that should be supported to create more media interest, and from my own observation it looked like the second biggest crowd of the week behind the Nations' Cup.
I thought Brendan McArdle, the arena commentator, was a revelation this week. He got the crowd going and put a bit of show into the word show jumping. This is what our sport needs and full marks to him.
In the 7 and 8 year-old classes I had a very good week with Ballymore Eustace, placing second in the qualification and jumping another double clear in the final to place second again and be the leading 7 year-old of the show.
This horse is owned by Mel Sutcliffe and Jim Bolger and was sourced by Paddy Quinlan in Finland. Paddy has done a great job with the horse in getting him to this level over the last six months which of course made my job easier this week. I'm looking forward to riding him in bigger classes in the years to come, he's a very promising animal.
The Dublin Horse Show is something special, there's something for everybody and as it moves to improve by modernising over the years I think it's great it doesn't lose its wonderful traditions. Some people give out about the parade before the Nations' Cup that it takes too long but for me it's one of the highlights of the show.
I've been on the Aga Khan team eight times in the last nine years and every time I ride in for that parade it's a very special occasion. Full marks to the show, keep up the good work.
To all the show jumping spectators who were there, maybe for the first time, why not take it a stage further? Look up the show jumping calendar and come and support the riders around the country in the national shows, and abroad if you can make it, for the international shows. You have no idea how much difference it makes to us to see a big crowd turn out in support with their tricolours!
If you want any details of what's on, email my office and we'll send you out details.