Things still hectic. After Nowra there was Maitland Show, another show that has been a bit up and down in it's fortunes. Once upon a time they ran a National Ch'ship, and it was always reknowned as being a beautiful arena surface. The late Alan Hodge did a great job in keeping jumping prominent there, but in the last few years it has been struggling. This year, the Hunter Valley Showjumping Club took on the organization, and once again things are looking more promising. Work on the surface, and a larger warm up ring, combined with John Vallances' excellent tracks saw an improved show, so it is hoped that Maitland can be resored to it's former glory! I had a good show, and was cautiously pleased with the first outing of new Grand Prix horse, NOBLEWOOD PARK BLATINI, who has had such a very successful career with David Dobson. BLA is a big, scopey mare by BURGRAAF, reminiscent of another big mother of a warmblood mare I campaigned LUNA LUNA, who managed to make it all the way to World Ch'ship level in Jerez in 2002. At Maitland BLA was 2nd in both her classes, the 1.30 and the Grand Prix, won by David Robertson and SHARPE SEAL. We still need to tidy up a few travelling issues, but I am very grateful to owners Tony Trevisan and Robynne McTaggert for giving me the opportunity to ride this lovely mare. I have had a long association with Tony, having ridden JADALCO for him at World Cup level, back in the 90's until he was sold to the US.
During the week following we had the first of the Clinics with our new Technical Director, Germany's Gilbert Bockmann, who has agreed to train our Elite and Development Squad riders in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics. He was universally approved by all riders that did the Clinic, which is pretty unusual for all of us to be in agreement(!), and also received good reviews in Victoria and Queensland. I was able to participate in the Clinic with ELIZA JANE and INFATUATION, then also took a last minute vacancy on the third day with BLA. All horses responded well to Gilbert's help, and I would like to thank the EFA and the Australian Sports Commission for making the funds available for us to have Gilbert.
Then Sunday night I flew to the Philippines to conduct a Clinic there, where there is a small, but very committed bunch of jumping riders based at the Manila Polo Club. Things are looking up there with the footing in the humungous indoor there being the best it's ever been, and they also took some trouble, with aerating and sand, to make the outdoor area, also a polo ground, into a better jumping surface, which has been an ongoing problem there. Thanks to Mikee Cojuangco-jaworski and Rebecca Dosch for organizing the Clinic, which was a lot of fun, but exposed that there is still much work to be done!
Home again, and have been host to the Trans Tasman team that has just headed off to New Zealand to do battle with the Kiwis at their Horse of the Year Show. This is a fairly young team, with David Robertson being the only one who has had any international, but not actual team, experience. But they have to start somewhere, and we hope that Paul Athanasoff, Becky Allen, Paula Hamood and Robbo can rise to the occasion. Also good to see Maree Hewitt going over in an unofficial capacity to help with any coaching duties that may occur, as they also have the Tri Nations, which is a borrowed horse event, to contend with, and certainly the Kiwis are very tough to beat on their home ground, and throw in the South Africans, who take this Tri Nations stuff very seriously, then our guys are going to have a few battles on their hands!
Now in full Sydney Show preparation mode, with all four horses getting a guernsey. IRISH and BLA are in Part 1, and RICCI and JANE are in Part 2, with another Noblewood horse, NOBLEWOOD PARK CASSINI'S GIRL in the 6 year old class.