What a way to start the season! I was excited to be the staff member who was able to cover the Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase this year. Never having been to Wellington, I was looking forward to the glitz and glam of the jumper and dressage rider’s stomping grounds, and it lived up to the hype!
The showcase is held at the Global Dressage Festival grounds. The main area is surrounded on two sides by VIP seating, where you can wine and dine while you watch ponies prance. The grounds are immaculate. Every inch of the spongy cross-country track was perfectly polished. And not to say the eventers stood out, but they definitely brought a different atmosphere to the venue.
The showcase has definitely built up momentum in its first two years. Riders were ready to be competitive, and I don’t blame them with a $100,000 purse on the line. The top ten after dressage all posted sub-30 scores. I hope this is some indicator of our rider’s dressage scores at FEI events upcoming this year.
Friday night as I was still working on wrapping up the day’s coverage, an Under 25 Grand Prix was held at Global and hot damn, after spending a year watching eventing show jumping and not much else, those fences looked huge! It was fun to get a taste of the jumpers before heading across the street to WEF on Saturday night.
Saturday morning the riders jumped the colored poles. Boyd commented in the end of day press conference that the show jumping felt huge – bigger than Rolex. It was also a very twisty course by Richard Jeffery, so I think the combination of those things, plus being the first outing of the year for some of these horses, lead to many poles down.
After somehow managing to get midday coverage up in the shortest lunch break ever, it was onto cross-country! The course was very twisty and had riders infamously jumping a fence inside the VIP tent. Like last year, every horse went in without issue and no one batted an eye.
William Fox-Pitt and Mark Todd flew over to play catch ride. Because riding an unfamiliar horse at Advanced is totally casual. William made both RF Quarterman and Steady Eddie look like ponies. I’m pretty sure he could touch his heels under their bellies! They both made their horses, who besides Steady Eddie hadn’t really run in a while, look like schoolmasters.
I also got to see WFP repping a UGA Eventing shirt! A friend of mine gave him one at a clinic earlier this week, but never expected him to wear it! That was pretty cool to see.
All in all it was a super weekend at the showcase. Though it doesn’t take the place of a proper event, it’s still a fun competition. I’m definitely spoiled now though. The media area came with pellegrino and bathrooms with AC, so the first real event of the year might be an adjustment!