Saturday, 23 May 2015

Chatsworth International Horse Trials

God's County!

As a Derbyshire lad the Peak District is God's County for me so putting a one day event in the middle of it was always going to be my kind of heaven. Hence the appeal of visiting the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials was always compelling. And when I was provided with car pass and press pass for this years event then I really didn't have an excuse did I? Here's the story of my day and the week afterwards during which I was to initiate myself into the rites of Instagram.

Chatsworth, situated in the wilds of the Peak District National Park, is a three hour plus journey for me from Gloucestershire. Luckily most of the journey is motorway, or at least dual carriageway, so it wasn't a difficult drive on a Sunday morning. I arrived at about 09:30 at which point the queues in were really building and the fact that you had to queue through the site didn't really help. But let's not moan the press pass gave me parking close to the arena, the media centre was very impressive and as I'd fed and watered on the M1 at Tibshelf the tripod was soon in place and I was videoing the CIC 3 star show jumping.

One of the great things about going to a new venue is that I don't have a clue where anything is. As you know it is a lot easier if I start at the start and work my way round the course (and makes more sense when you're watching it back) so I struck out from the car park, found the course and then worked my way back round the course to start videoing the CIC from the start box and fence 1.

Part of the impressive Bower Complex
The horses came along at regular intervals and without incident, the commentary was clear and the crowds not so thick that i felt I couldn't use my tripod (except around the Bower fence where I used the tripod as a mono pod). As a water complex this is most impressive, with massive stone "keep" at the centre, arch for the ccI riders to duck under, moat around the keep to jump into, out of and through. Understandably there was a thick crowd around the fences here so lots of nice ughs and arghs as the competitors diced with a ducking.

I was fortunate to capture Emily King at all four obstacles at the Bower and was delighted when Emily contacted me so that she could give the video her Instagram treatment. "Big Upp #Harveywetdog for the sweet filmage "means she liked it I think. The Harveywetdog page got massive hits as a result of Emily's attention and pushed the number of page likes over 100 so that was all good then.

Back to Chatsworth; I knew the CIC competition was going to be a challenge to get all round so I didn't linger long at each fence. The course climbs the steep side of the Derwent valley and looked like it required horses to be fit to complete both climb and jump. Fence 15AB, the bounce drop, looked particularly challenging especially as it was quickly followed up by the Scottie Trakehner.

Having made sure I had captured all fences at least once then I concentrated on specific horses and was delighted when I realised Pippa had won having videoed her round the final sections of the course. Taperz put in a late bid to win but had a run out early on in the course.

After lunch it was time for Advanced Showjumping although disappointingly I missed Carole Broad's Molakai who had been on my list to capture. Realising that times were not being adhered to for the Advanced Sections I got myself back out onto the Cross Country. I was not as disciplined in the afternoon, basically starting and finishing at the Bower, and so the video doesn't follow such an exact time line as the CIC.

Fence Decoration
The Advanced course looked just as challenging as the CIC although thankfully it didn't climb quite so far up the side of the valley this time. My plan had been to get round to the second water, catch Molakai going out through 4AB and back through 11ABC and 12ABC (the ice pond) but this was only partially successful as the announcement that he was on course didn't come until he was at Fence 4!

As I wanted to get a move on I used the mono pod in the afternoon as it doesn't require setting up each time I reached a fence. I also took the time to capture some slow motion shots. There was quite a crowd around the start box (nicely dedicated to Bill Allen) and I captured some great footage of when rider patiently waiting to start. When I came to edit the film i used these shots, combined with the slow motion, in the introduction the idea being this is what was going through the riders mind before she started.

From the start I made my way back to the Bower and then back to the Discovery via the very welcome Yorkshire Tea stand (although I had a coffee!) By the time I came to set off the queues out had really built up both in the Park and on the local roads such that it took me a good hour to clear Chesterfield for the M1. Note to self leave earlier next time and head South and then join the M1.

Added attraction
Chatsworth marks the end of my Spring video campaign which started at Tweseldown back in MARCH? I was delighted to be given accreditation and have to thank Rachael Morley for arranging this for me. I've treated processing these videos as a priority before I go back and tidy up all the outstanding work from Hambleden through to Withington. For the Advanced I used Queen It's a beautiful day as I like the slow build up for the imagination sequence i described earlier, and for the CIC I used Springsteen's Hometown - well I was in my home county if not quite my home town!!

The thumbs up from Emily King was cool and hopefully will draw a few more supporters into the Harveywetdog fold. I also enjoyed the comment from Fizz Bolton who's son Bert appears in the video in which she said the video was awesome and had had to make herself breathe all over again just watching it!!!

I've done some late evenings to get the videos completed this week. There's also an advertisement on Instagram. so please watch and share.

Some thoughts on Chatsworth as a venue? a great opportunity to get round two serious courses in one day with some of the best riders in the sport taking part; wonderful setting and the Bower must be one of the best water complexes in the world; the hills will have provided a good preparation for the even hillier Blair and on a personal note Molakai looks so much more of a cross country horse than when I watched him at Gatcombe in 2014; just got to sort out the show jumping. (I've got this mental picture of Carole giving Astier a lesson like she used to give me on Sam and Elliott!)

On the other side I don't really like the Country Fair/Event events. Too much distracting noise and I was surprised the course didn't make more use of the Parkland and the setting of the House, the course felt pushed out of the way up the side of the valley. Oh and the traffic was a nightmare in and out but that was partly my own fault for making a couple of wrong turns so overall a positive experience in a wonderful setting. So I'd love to return now I understand the lie of the land. I'd make sure I got their earlier to catch more of the CIC show jumping and leave earlier.

Finally and as always thanks to all the riders and officials who appear in the videos along with the owners and helpers, especially Katie Barber and Abigail Walters both of whom I showed waiting to start which can't be the best time to appear on camera in full HD.