Olympia is a real British institution situated in Kensington, about five minutes from central London. It is a magnificent exhibition hall built during Queen Victoria’s reign, and its Christmas International Horse Show has become the venue's flagship event.
The organisers really know how, and have succeeded, in putting the 'show' back into show jumping. In terms of getting backsides on seats, column inches in the print media and hours of tv coverage all over the world, they are light years ahead of other venues.
It must be said that the time of year, the setting, kids on holidays etc., all contribute towards its success, but they have managed to sell show jumping like theatre, where the people pay for an afternoon's performance or an evening performance.
We are the guys on show, and with small numbers in the classes, it's fast, easy to follow, and makes for great sport. Hats off to the organisers and of course - thanks for my invitation!
I had probably one of the best shows in my career to date. Splendor placed 2nd in the Accumulator, Echo Beach was 2nd and 3rd in two different speed classes, and Calista shared 1st place in the Puissance.
Rancorrado, however, was the star of the week. I gave him one class on Friday as a warm-up, and then kept him fresh for the two main events - the World Cup Qualifier on Sunday afternoon and the Grand Prix on Monday night.
He has been improving all the time and you may recall I said a few weeks ago in this blog that we would win something big before Christmas. Thank God I haven't lost the plot just yet, and Rancorrado delivered two magical performances. We were 2nd in the World Cup Qualifier, and then won the Grand Prix.
What an amazing Christmas present and reward for all who are part of my team. To quote my late grandfather Dr. Karl Mullen: 'there's no substitute for hard work and success is reward for effort'.
At times this job is frustrating. We all work tirelessly - grooms, stable staff, truck driver, vets, farriers, etc., and so often horses can jump well but have a fence down or the rider makes a mistake and the work seems in vain. However, one show like this and I realise once again why we go through it all in the first place - there's no better feeling than being a winner.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!