I'm just back from a successful outing in Brussels. The horses jumped well and I was very pleased with them all. It was Rancorrado's first major test indoors and even though he had two down in the Grand Prix I was extremely happy at how he performed at this level. He was fifth in the main event, the 1m55 on the Friday night, with a star-studded line-up such as Laura Kraut, Eric Lamaze, Philippe LeJeune and Nick Skelton.
Complete was placed in the two classes he jumped, and this was all the more impressive given that this was his first international show in over three months. Irish Independent Echo Beach performed well, taking 4th place in the 1m50 Accumulator on Saturday. It's quite difficult to step into that level from just doing the national shows in Ireland, and while I won the league and I've done very well here over the last few months I got a great sense of satisfaction from going out there and getting those sort of placings amongst the best in the world.
I mean, you can stay at home all the time in your comfort zone or you can push yourself and raise the bar and hopefully be able to be competitive on the world stage. I feel both the horses and I will come on a lot from the show, and look forward to good performances in Geneva and London over the next few weeks.
The indoor circuit is quite a tough circuit, as you are confined obviously to the indoor space, and unlike the outdoor events where you can take horses out to for a hack or a pick of grass, these shows are mainly based in major cities so obviously you don't have that luxury. Also the days are quite long - for instance on Saturday night the main event didn't start until 10pm and didn't finish until midnight, and on Sunday morning our first class started at 9am so it is very tiring and quite tough on the grooms also.
Having said that, this show was a great spectacle, backstage was very comfortable - plenty of room - and the stables were great and the practice arena was big enough. There was fantastic footing and there were great courses built by the American course designer Conrad Homfeld, so all in all it was a world class show.
The riders were looked after well and put up in Sofitel Louise which is right on the main shopping street in Brussels, and although we didn't get much time to enjoy it, it was very comfortable.
The horses are back home this week and then we head out again to Geneva where I'll take Complete, Rancorrado and Baloufina. This Friday (December 5th) I'm doing a demonstration with Gisela and Heike Holstein on behalf of Horse Sport Ireland at Kill Equestrian Centre starting at 7.30pm, and we'd love to see everyone there. Entry is free, but I'm told over 600 people have registered already, so if you want to be sure of a seat get in touch with Ilona Blunden at Horse Sport Ireland as soon as you can!
The night after this I'll be at the Show Jumpers Ball in Kilashee House Hotel, which should be a fabulous occasion.
Check back here next Monday for more news from my travels...