Thursday, 9 April 2015

Somerley Park International Horse Trials

When I'd first drawn up my list of Events to attend in 2015 Somerley Park hadn't been on my list but Howick had; Howick is basically just down the road and Somerley is a couple of hours away. But when Sunday at Gatcombe was cancelled and potentially diverted to a third day at Somerley I was drawn to look at the participants on Wednesday I realised it made more sense to travel to Somerley mid-week and leave the rest of the Easter Weekend free for other things. Sorry Howick!

Beautiful Day; Beautiful Setting

Front row parking
I'm a frequent (all too frequent) traveller around the M4/A34/M27/A31 loop into Dorset for business. So I had a good idea where I was headed and made good use of Rownhams on the M27 to stock up on coffee and calories for the day. A diet of double shot cappuccino, Belgian chocolate tiffin, double double decker and double boost probably isn't ideal but I did have a bottle of water as well to keep me hydrated. Once across the rickety bridge (how long will that remain Discovery proof?) it was into the car park and chance to watch a bit of CIC 2* Dressage.

The crew at Fence 8
Having got my bearings and realising that the Intermediate Cross Country was about to start I decided to stick with that and make my way around the course. My rough plan was to video as much cross country as possible until it started to rain and then head home; if I had time I would also fit in some show jumping. I had decided I would not stay for the 2 star regardless. Things worked out pretty well although I probably should have shot some Intermediate show jumping as well.

Harriet Upton gallops
across the flat parkland
The Somerley Park Land is wonderfully flat which makes setting up the tripod very easy. I've been experimenting more with the camera recently and one thing I've done is to turn off the Steadyshot feature because I don't think it works so well on the tripod (the camera doesn't always come back to the same plane). This means that the extended range of optical zoom is not available to me so I was tending to switch between the two modes if there was a particular rider I wanted to follow over a larger number of fences.

One lovely moment was when I got an email from BE at round about Fence 7. I was able to reply "on location, Somerley Park" which was kind of nice! Perhaps one day I'll be able to blog about the topic of our email correspondence. For now I'll leave it at when someone PMs you via Twitter and says "We need to talk" you know it is unlikely to be good news.

WFP on CM not PH
Francis Whittington
I was certainly rewarded with some top riders as Andrew Nicholson, William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Emily King, Francis Whittington, Pippa Funnell, Lucinda Fredericks and Tina Cook all galloped past and appear on the video. Was I disappointed not to see Avebury and Parklane Hawk? yes! but can you have everything? no! It was also good to see Nana Dalton, Millie Dumas, Harriet Upton and Rupert Batting out and about.

Having completed my circuit of the cross country course I visited the show jumping arena and videoed Novice rounds by Zara Phillips, Clare Chamberlayne, Jonelle Price, Izzy Taylor and Harry Dzenis. As I also saw all of these later on on the cross country I was able to use the combined show jumping and cross country action as Somerley Park teasers while I processed and uploaded the full videos across the Easter Weekend. The show jumping arena seemed to come in for some stick in some quarters but it looked OK to me, certainly better than Gatcombe had looked a few days earlier. Obviously looks can be deceptive and it's how it rides that counts.

Somerley Park have Humberts as a principle sponsor
Rupert Batting is kindly sponsored by Brinicombe Equine  
Well done! Big pats
The novice course looked challenging enough and there were plenty of run outs at some of the more technically challenging corners and angles. There was a nasty fall at the Open Ditch at 16 which resulted in a loose horse and a delay for fence repair. It was good to see horse and rider walking away to compete another day because they certainly seemed to go down hard as I watched them from a distance.

Luckily I had just videoed the last fence when the heavens opened and I took a dash to the car. The rain quickly subsided and the sun was back out by the time I had joined the queue through the woods to find my way back towards the A31 and home. So in conclusion a pleasing day, good setting, well run, excellent field and worth a visit.

Follow the link below to see all my Somerley Park videos.

Somerley Park Play List

Final Fence

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