The Cavan Indoor championships concluded on Sunday following six great days of competition. The equestrian facility is run by the Clarke family and what amazes me is that every time we return they have further developed the place and improved it.
This year they have built extra stables, extended the canteen and built a new bar, and each with a top class finish. Cavan Equestrian Centre is a pleasure to compete in, and it's up there as one of the best equestrian centres in Europe.
I have quite a busy indoor campaign coming up, and was using Cavan to get my horses used to the more enclosed arenas. It's a big change coming from Hickstead and Dublin to go to indoor jumping but this six day long show gave me the opportunity to allow my horses get used to the confinements of indoor and the added noise and atmosphere, and most importantly the tighter turns.
Markopoulo placed 6th in the Derby and 8th in the Grand Prix, where Splendor and Baloufina also jumped clear first rounds. One of my best young horses, Phoenix, a 5 year-old son of Quasimodo placed 6th in the 5 year-old championship, which finishes at an incredible height for young horses of 1m40 in the last round.
Next weekend I'm at the Newcastle, Co. Wicklow show where I take Complete, Markopoulo and Splendor to jump in the Grand Pix on Sunday.
Check back for more gossip next week.
- In action at Spruce Meadows
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.
- Croker - a welcome break from routine
As I write to you this afternoon I am waiting to board a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Calgary. Rancorrado and Echo Beach flew out over the weekend and have arrived safely.
This enabled me to take some downtime over the weekend and do some other activities outside of the horsey world. On Friday I enjoyed the new Late Late Show. I must say I like Ryan Tubridy but I did feel that the questioning of Brian Cowen was a little harsh, notwithstanding the fact the public are looking for answers. After all he is the Taoiseach of our country and while he should be expected to answer questions due respect should be shown during the questioning.
However, on reading all Sunday's papers, which I enjoy doing when I get the time, both men seem to have come out the better for the interview! For me in fact Sharon Corr was the star of the Late Late with her new single and I wish her all the best for that.
On Saturday I met my mum for lunch in Barberstown Castle in Straffan. This was a nice relaxing afternoon and again reminds you of the normal things in life, which can have more fundamental values than work.
On Sunday I was fortunate enough to have got a ticket from a friend to see the All-Ireland hurling final. This was a real treat, as being able to witness Kilkenny winning their fourth consecutive All-Ireland hurling final was somewhat special. In a packed stadium of 80,000 people the atmosphere was electric.
I feel recharged and ready to get stuck in and as both the horses are in top form I expect a good week in Calgary. Check back next Sunday for an update.