Saturday, 29 August 2015

Festival of British Eventing: Gatcombe Park

Andrew Nicholson at that
fateful final fence
After Hartpury, Gatcombe is my closest major eventing venue. Okay one of the things I love about Gatcombe is that, unlike Burghley, I know where the advanced Land Rover car park is. So armed with this knowledge and media accreditation I set out on the morning of Saturday 8th August to video the Novice and Intermediate Cross Country Courses and some Intermediate Show Jumping in the time prior to the Cross Country starting.

I knew there wasn't a massive entry for the Novice Cross Country so I couldn't spend a lot of time with the show jumping but I was delighted that having set up my camera at the edge of the Land Rover hospitality area Bert Bolton and Purple Sands entered the arena to jump. I've said before how supportive Bert's mum Fizz has been of the Harveywetdog project and it's nice to repay people's kindness with a quality video.

Having enjoyed Land Rover's hospitality I set out for the start of the cross country course where Harry Dzenis and Cruise A Crosstown kicked things off. I quickly made my way around the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship Course. As you will see in the video the course was suitably challenging , a point brought home in harsh reality when Dunganstown Fleur and Sarah Holmes had a crashing fall in front of me at Fence 19 The Dodson & Horrell Punt. The fall of horse and rider was bad enough but was made worse by the poor fence judge who having caught hold of Fleur (who as you will see from the video managed to get the red flag caught in her tail as she rolled over the fence) was then knocked over twice and was lucky not to be trampled on. As  a foot note the fence was jumped again in the Corinthian Cup the next day but by then had acquired three roundels to emphasise the fence to the horses.

The Equex China Complex of Fences

Will they wont they?
Flora Harris at the water
Saturday afternoon was spent making a second circuit of the Gatcombe Course in order to video the
action on the Smith and Williamson British Intermediate Championship cross country course. With a larger entry I was able to spend more time at each fence to capture the action. The light was particularly good at the water jump later on in the afternoon and I was very pleased with the definition on my video of Cooley Lord Lux and Flora Harris at the water so once I'd completed all the videos on the Gatcombe playlist I used this piece of action as my Instagram trailer and a still as the thumbnail for the Intermediate video on You Tube.

Generally these days I record show jumping on the tripod and cross country on the monopod. The tripod gives me greater stability when I need to zoom in across the show jumping arena and the monopod gives me a degree of stability but also allows me to move quickly around the cross country course especially when time is of the essence. Certainly that was how I operated at Gatcombe where crowds are also a concern. To achieve the shot of Cooley Lord Lux I knelt down with the monopod on reduced length. This worked well for the shot but when I stood up I realised that the hot sun on the exposed soles of my boots had heated them up to such an extent that it made it feel like my feet were on fire! I guess jumping in the water complex would have been an option if they had been!

Of course Oliver Townend was on great form and won both classes on Saturday. Not only that, he was first and second in the Novice and first and fifth in the Intermediate. Now that is a good day in the office!

Gatcombe Essentials
 For my part, having successfully completed two circuits of the hilly Gatcombe Park course, it was time for a final Cappuccino and then make my way home. As I'm now very disciplined about the order I video the courses in and with a relatively small number of entries in the Novice I was able to get that video edited and uploaded and out in time for Sunday morning.

Final thought on Saturday. Toward the end of the Novice I thought, I've got lots of video of Andrew Nicholson, I'll just take a HD still of him jumping the last fence on MGH Grafton Street which I did. I used the picture of Andrew for my Thumbnail. Little did I realise that approx 24 hours later this would be the fence where Andrew would have his career threatening fall with Cillnabradden Evo.

Sunday tends to be the main day at Gatcombe so it was up early, coffee at the Starbucks on the outskirts of Stonehouse and then through Stroud and into the Land Rover advanced parking to sign in at the media centre. A further cup of coffee and a bacon roll were taken at the Land Rover hospitality in the Park Bowl (look out for them at Burghley) and then it was off and around the course to capture the action in the new TopSpec Challenge for the Corinthian Cup.

Hunter Field Water Complex
This competition is held at Restricted Novice level and this was the first year that the competition had taken place. The competition is aimed at providing a 'true' Novice level Championship.

British Eventing state that "in keeping with the grassroots nature of the Championship, riders must not have completed an Intermediate class in the current or preceding five years, and not completed an Advanced class in the current or preceding 10 years".

Land Rovers at the Folley
There were plenty of enthusiastic competitors who gave their all to win the inaugural running of the Championship which was won by a chap called Noah who I must admit I thought at first was a girl (the clues in the name!). Noah enjoyed a little swear as he went past me which I think you can hear on the video. For the Thumbnail I used 2nd placed Sari de Lobelle and Sara Chittleburgh because everyone was so impressed with the way the little horse had mastered the Gatcombe course.

Another view of the Water Complex and Gatcombe House
I took my time around the course but having completed and having got back to the main arena to find the Open Championship Show Jumping had finished early it was back to the Media Centre for a coffee and sandwich before heading back to the cross country start where Matthew Heath and The Lion were due to kick things off at 14;20. The final phase is the cross country which is run in reverse order following the show jumping with the top placed combination going last. Having picked up my copy of the running order I noticed that there were quite a few withdrawals due to ground being quite hard and although I can understand the decision to put your horse away for another day it is hard on the paying public (and me who has to get round the course in double quick time!).

It was quite an eventful afternoon; you'll hear the announcement of Andrew Nicholson's fall at the final fence; you'll see Andrew Hoy fall from Rutherglen at the Skinny Brushes; and you'll see some lovely smooth riding from Jonelle Price and Christopher Burton as they take on the water complex towards the end of their rounds which saw them take second and first respectively. What you wont see is Paulank Brockagh, having disposed of Sam Griffiths, charging for home past me off the course and running into a couple of spectators in doing so.

I don't know if it was this final incident, the lack of a British winner or simply being tired but rather than wait for the prize giving but instead headed back to the Discovery and off home to start processing. I'm really please with the four course videos I produced from my time at The Festival of British Eventing Presented by BETA and  hope you will be too. Certainly the Open Video is picking up a lot of views so please WATCH/LIKE/SHARE!

Here is the full playlist