In the Bladon arena today it was the turn of the Pony Club teams to fight it out for the Eventer Challenge title. A fresh show jumping course had been built over night and the target time today was 122 seconds. I thought the show jumping course was nicer today than yesterday, it was more open and encouraging of a forward stride, but poles did fall throughout the course, sometimes many times. Although the course is billed as 1.05m, the same as the RC course, I thought it looked bigger and more imposing, but that could have been due to clever use of the undulating ground. The first fence was far kinder than yesterday, which was situated jumping off a corner into the crowd, some flags and horseboxes, but the young ‘uns had two doubles to contend with, one in the same place as yesterday and one going slightly downhill away from the collecting ring, and had one of the beautifully carved lion skinnies, part of the XC jump course, to the right to draw the horses‘ attention away from the job in hand.
It is always a pleasure to watch talented ponies and riders pinging around a course of fences, and should serve as a reminder that some pony blood somewhere in your event horse lines is always a good idea, although the cheeky run outs that ponies are incredibly adept at pulling off may be a reason to think again! I witnessed some really solid riding today, and have no doubt that some of the 4* riders of the future were honing their craft at Blenheim today, eyeing up the big boy jumps and thinking *when* rather than *if*!
When I checked the scoreboard at the halfway point it was clear that the PCers were judging the speed far better than the RCers yesterday, even though their going was certainly greasy and wet but, as I said before, I don’t think the course was as twisty. I was, therefore, surprised to find that the only team on 0 were Bicester and Warden Hill, but not surprised to see that any team scoring over 9 faults were already being summoned to pick up their consolation rosettes – it was clear that only the most precise rounds, by every scoring member of the squad, was going to ensure entry into the prize giving!
By 3.30pm there was still only one team on 0, with a few teams to go. Sadly I had to leave and as I did the heavens opened, but I am sure the competitive spirit of those left to go was not extinguished! I have tried and failed to find out the final placings this evening, so hopefully one of you e-venting followers will know!
Thank you to a reader who has confirmed that the Quorn snuck in right at the end as third from last team to snatch victory and win by virtue of being closer to the optimum time.
There is no Eventer Challenge tomorrow, but Sunday sees the turn of the Tri-Zone BE 100 champs, which will no doubt be even more competitive as individual riders try their hardest to win the top prize, a saddle!