Our group had a very pleasant day which started off as we meant to carry on in the BHS Hospitality Box with teas, coffees and biscuits. We were ably looked after throughout the day by Eamon and Nigel the catering staff who also and most importantly did the washing up.
We watched a variety of Championship Judging Classes that included Hack, Ladies Hunters, Miniature Horses and Scurry Driving.
After an early lunch we then walked the Queen Elizabeth Cup Course with the renowned Judge Alan Jones. It was immediately obvious it was up to height (1.50m) and imposing, leaving little room for rider error. I was surprised to note a slight gradient to the arena which is not apparent on the television.
As Alan began herding his unruly ﬂock around the course, we turned into “tourists” having and taking photographs alongside the fences and it made me realise how substantial the Olympic fences must have been. Some riders when turning back to the “Hickstead Planks” saw rather a long stride which turned out not to be feasible and as a result took it by the roots. Making us mere mortals realise it can happen to the best of us.
Alan judged the water and his team were kept busy with several combinations incurring faults. This meant cutting and replacing the plasticine from the landing area and placing it in a numbered plastic bag to preserve in case of a protest.
From 25 starters in the class there were 6 into the jump off. Robert Whittaker went ﬁrst and threw the gauntlet down with a fast clear and we all thought he had it “in the bag”, until the penultimate combination of Trevor Breen and Adventure De Kannan who then pipped the leader by 500th of a second. This was made all the more amazing because as you know “Addy” has only one eye! This horse enjoys the Hickstead atmosphere as he has already won the Derby, the Speed Derby and the Eventers Challenge. (If you are interested look up Trevor Breen Hickstead 2014 and you should be able to locate his round courtesy of Sky Sports. However you do have to suffer an advertisement which you cannot skip.) That drew our exciting day to a conclusion with people gradually drifting off for some gentle retail therapy to then become homeward bound.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all concerned for organising this prestigious day and strongly advise anyone who hasn’t been to this meeting to put it in their calendar for 2015.