London is a hardworking city, so the meagre turnout on this sunny Thursday at the LGCT leg in London wasn’t unexpected. The low key vibe gave riders a chance to acclimate their horses to the ring with some friendly 1.10m to 1.50m classes on offer.
The show runs Thursday to Sunday and each day offers both FEI CSI2* and CSI5* classes, the star rating referring to the height of fences as well as the prize money associated with each class. It’s a great show and the CSI2* classes have allowed some younger British and International riders, and those without significant international jumping experience, to gain miles in a big international class.
The morning’s first class was a 1.10m/1.15m two phase (power and speed) class, won by Lara Whiteway for Great Britain and the Zangersheide stallion Obelix Z. The British domination continued into the second class, a 1.25m/1.30m with youngster Jake Saywell taking the top spot on Special K IV. Jake is one to watch in the future as he comes from a prolific show jumping family – sister Louise is a very successful young rider as well. The last class of the 2* competition today was a 1.40m/1.45m which was won by James Davenport, another fantastic British rider, on Carrento Ztar.
The afternoon classes brought the start of the CSI5* competition with a 1.45m power and speed class, won by Pius Schwizer of Switzerland on Coolgirl. The class brought the stars of the sport out but not many clear, fast rounds. British rider Mark Armstrong on Thesaura was third in and took an early lead but was pipped to the post by Schwizer very late in the class. The last class, a 1.50m speed class, was a mix of grand prix horses warming up for classes later on in the week and genuine speed horses. Lauren Hough and Ohlala posted a clear and fast round early in the class that held steady for the entire time, securing the win.
There has been much talk about the expected turn out of this inaugural LGCT event in Great Britain. Many have posted in online forums criticizing the lack of publicity and even the cost of the tickets. We found it difficult to find the venue from the train station, due to lack of signage, but equally due to our bad sense of direction. The spectator numbers were abysmal, with members of the press and trade stand exhibitors probably outnumbering the number of paying spectators – even for the big class at 6pm. For the riders, it probably made for better ‘warm-up’ classes for the bigger money ones this weekend, as there was a complete lack of atmosphere. For the spectators, they had free run of the ample seating areas and shopping. There are high hopes by the organizers and the trade stand exhibitors that the spectator numbers will pick up as the show continues. Hopefully, this won’t deter any future events of this calibre as it’s clear the Brits are game to compete on the world stage and win on home turf.
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