Barbury is my absolutely favourite event of the year, I actually prefer Barbury to Badminton! You get to see so many fantastic eventers, watch a 1.40m Grand Prix and there is always some side entertainment which this year was a inter hunt relay style ride off between showjumpers, eventers, hunters and jockeys in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund and sponsored by JCB.
I always try and attend on the Saturday because for me this is the most action packed day with a plethora of choice with the 2* running all day, 3* show jumping and pure show jumping. For an avid horse watcher like me you can watch lots within a small space.
The CIC2* was the main cross country action today. The course felt similar to last year with there being three notable changes of the keyhole, the corners and the water fence. Course pictures can be found on Shoestring Eventing – http://www.shoestringeventing.co.uk/coursepictures.html
The keyhole was a brush corner with turn to skinny wedge. This fence claimed a few scalps. Those who jumped the corner quietly and rode forwards to the wedge seemed to have the most comfortable jump and one that horses read the best. The corners also claimed some scalps notably Sir Mark Todd. The first corner seemed to ride fine but the second corner was on a tight turn and horses which argued on the turn or did not have the best line seemed to be the ones caught out. I feel the improvements made to the water have really improved this fence as I always hated the step out as it often looked ugly. The brush wedge out caught a few scalps including Pippa Funnell but in most cases rode well.
Winners of the CIC2* section C were William Fox Pitt on Top Biats who looked effortless going round the cross country. David Doel looked in good form on Miss Caruso to pick up the win in CIC2* section B.
The CIC3* showjumping also took place today. Andrew Nicholson jumped a cool clear to retain the lead on Avebury. It will be interesting to see if he goes for the time tomorrow to hold the record of three wins here at Barbury CIC3*. Clark Montgomery held second place on Loughlan Glen with his clear round. His round on Universe saw him plummet down the order with 4 jumping faults and 17 time. 3rd place is held by Sir Mark Todd on his WEG ride Leonidas. Billy Bounce looked superb ridden by Chris King. He really is a classy up and coming horse he is currently in 5th place. I watched Paul Sims warm up Calador who is a big rangy looking horse by Clinton. In the warm up Calador looked like a showjumper and did not disappoint with a classy round and currently sits in equal 5th place with Billy Bounce. A final shout out goes to Becky Woolven who jumped a lovely clear on LB The Phantom. This is only their second CIC3* so to jump a clear in such a pressurised arena is fantastic.
Finally a mention to the ringside entertainment of the relay. This was held on borrowed horses round a course of 90-1m big including a water splash. The change over was all important and the victors were the jockeys ably led by John Francome. It is easy to forget what consummate horsemen jockeys are and seeing them against showjumpers, hunters and eventers showed how beautifully they ride. All of them rode forward flowing rounds and saw great strides on a forward shot. The eventers were fourth after a botched change over between William Fox Pitt and Zara Phillips. The baton was dropped and Zara needed to jump off her horse to pick it up and hand over. The hunt team was second with the eventers coming in third. It was great ringside entertainment and for an extremely worthy cause in the Injured Jockeys Fund which supports riders from any discipline not just jockeys, at purpose built centres such as Oaksey House.
The Ice Cream queues were long with the superb weather and the only improvement this fabulous event needs is more loos as the queues were long.
The excitement builds for tomorrow with the CIC3* cross country being run in reverse order.
De Novo News had a good dressage and jumped a good clear today.
Wild Lone did 2* dressage and showjumping in preparation for his trip to Aachen.
The NZ team looks like it is peaking at the right time with Avebury and Leonidas being in the top 3. Tim Price had 7 faults showjumping on his reserve horse Ringwood Skyboy which dropped him down the order to 25th from 9th place after dressage.
Oliver Townend will be disappointed with Armada who did a dressage test of 49.6 and had 9 faults showjumping. It leaves him in 64th place.