As a veteran watcher of quite a few 4* trot-ups, I expected it to be the usual: a fairly uneventful parade of stunningly turned-out horses, by riders in various states of fashion or anti-fashion, with nothing more exciting than ‘Cripes, glad I’m not trying to hold onto that’, ‘HOW short are those shorts?!’ and ‘Can she really run in those heels?’
But this year’s Trot Up was quite dramatic from the start. Mostly because it was a little breezy, and some Evil Genius had decided to put a cordyline in the middle of every planter that ran alongside the running strip.
These waved in the breeze, and the list of horses which took quite violent exception to those cordylines is embarrassingly long. They caused multiple shies and dramatic spooks, some very careful eyeballing (Reve de Rouet and Millthyme Corolla, amongst others), at least one stop-dead-and-boggle moment, and possibly the two Major Airs Above The Ground that we saw.
In addition, the Ground Jury seemed to be being picky. They asked for a couple to be trotted twice before passing them, and sent quite a few horses to the Holding Box, including, gasp-inducingly among the packed stands, Avebury, last to go. All were passed the next time, except for poor Shane Rose’s ride CP Qualified, who was unfortunately Not Passed.
Some horses looked mega-lean, others were a bit more covered, but all were impressive, looking fantastic and ready to run, an absolute credit to the teams and grooms behind them.
On to the most important part of the trot up, the outfits, obviously.
For the gentlemen, many wore chinos and tweed, others opted for a more formal suit.
My top three were:
Murray Lamperd for Australia, who wore a well-fitted beige suit with a pale blue shirt and striped tie.
William Fox-Pitt, whose mid-blue trousers, pale pink shirt, blue tie and pale beige jacket went really well together.
Oliver Townend, in a dark blue suit with a pale blue shirt and striped tie.
For the ladies:
There were some lovely outfits, including Megan Heath in a high-collared cheongsam jacket in lime green and black, with black trousers, Sarah Squires showing off her bare legs in short black shorts, Allison Springer in bright orange cigar pants with a navy asymmetric top, Louise Harwood in a very pale pink jacket with black accents, and black trousers, and Meghan O’Donoghue in a navy silk dress, bright red pumps, and a short cream silk jacket.
My top three were:
Georgie Spence, in a longline pale green tweed coat, statement brown belt, skinny black trousers and brown heeled ankle-boots.
Gemma Tattersall, whose wore a smart long tweed jacket (okay, maybe I’m a sucker for that look) with white jeans and dark knee length boots.
Louisa Milne Home, whose carefully-chosen outfit of black skinny trousers with a very fitted short tweed jacket in a scarlet and green tweed with flowing peplum at the back, with a scarlet velvet beret, was quite delightful. This photo really doesn’t do it justice at all.
As for the shenanigans, both Francis Whittington and William Fox-Pitt endured quite anxious moments, Hasty Imp being very much on his toes, and Bay My Hero throwing some serious moves both before coming up to the strip, and on it.
64 combinations go forward to the Dressage, starting tomorrow morning at 9am with the Guinea Pig Test.
All photos by Katie Mortimore for e-Venting.