Dear BEWA Member,
An equestrian year that started so hesitantly has ended in a burst of triumph, with Britain’s second successive individual Olympic show jumping gold medal, a first Olympic eventing team gold since 1972 and dressage medals galore.
British eventers have dominated in a way not seen for decades, winning four team competitions on the trot — Tokyo, Aachen, Avenches and Boekelo. Their cross-country riding was spectacular in Tokyo and Tom McEwen and his wonderful horse Toledo de Kerser, the individual silver medallists, were sheer perfection. Oliver Townend, the brilliant Olympic pathfinder, is still world number one and won Kentucky five-star for the third time on Cooley Master Class. Young rider Mollie Summerland trounced her seniors at Luhmuhlen and Gemma Tattersall gained both a first five-star win and a husband at Bicton.
At the Europeans, the British squad took all three individual medals — for the first time since Ian Stark, Richard Walker and Karen Dixon swept the board at Punchestown in 1991 — and we have a refreshing new European champion in Nicola Wilson, a true horsewoman whose cross-country round in Switzerland was magical to watch.
The best-tipped combinations don’t always win the titles, so for Ben Maher to pull off Olympic victory on the spectacular Explosion W was both thrilling and satisfactory – and thoroughly deserved. In contrast, the team results have been a bit of a damp squib, but we clearly have a talented new generation whose time will come, and both Harry Charles and Holly Smith had a good Barcelona.
We also have a new generation of dressage horses, which makes the championship results this year so credible. Lottie Fry is an exciting new addition and Charlotte Dujardin, for a brief while the most medalled British female athlete until overtaken by cyclist Laura Kenny, pulled off some feat to win a brace of individual bronzes on the enchanting Gio.
Topping it all off, the para-dressage squad regained supremacy in brilliant style, led by the outstanding Sir Lee Pearson who won his 14th Paralympic gold medal and 30th championship gold, on a home-bred young horse, Breezer.
Running an international event in 2021 has not been for the faint-hearted and some brave decisions had to be made, not all of which were popular. Great efforts have been made to provide press facilities within restricted budgets and space, but this tended to engender a jolly atmosphere. Royal Windsor’s decision to go for a July date was a gamble that, happily, paid off handsomely and cheered everyone up, as did the Royal International at Hickstead and, more recently, HOYS. The Jockey Club proved that they do know about eventing — or, at least, they know the right people to ask — with a bumper Blenheim Horse Trials which capitalised on Burghley’s absence.
Funding by owners, supporters and a loyal sponsor enabled Aston-le-Walls to run a much-needed four-star horse trials when the country was still locked down in May and the indefatigable Nina Barbour gave show jumping a fillip at Bolesworth. At Bicton, handsome sponsorship by a businessman owner, who fortunately enjoys both eventing and supporting West Country enterprises, enabled the Devon venue to take a deserved turn in the spotlight with a four-star in June and Britain’s only five-star, in September.
The latter weekend was great fun and beautifully presented, but the entry was disappointing. Riders who were vociferous in their condemnation of Burghley’s cancellation could have been more supportive when so much effort had been made to provide them with a home five-star. And everyone needs to remember that it is the parkland events that gives British eventing the edge and has made the sport so high-profile and financially successful here. We look forward to their return in 2022, including Burghley under the new directorship of Martyn Johnson.
Martyn certainly knows his stuff, having been at the helm of the successful replacement national championships at Burgham this year and a key player in the Event Rider Masters series. We wish him the very best in his new role looking after one of Britain’s national treasures and pay tribute to the former incumbent Liz Inman, a much-loved figure in eventing who has devoted her life’s work to making Burghley the world-famous showpiece it has become.
By the same token, it’s vital that everyone gets behind the best known equestrian event, Badminton, whose new management — Jane Tuckwell (director), Andrew Tucker (commercial director) and Becky Elvin (Press Officer) — have endured a tortuously frustrating year. Helen West, British Eventing’s new chief executive, also deserves support, taking over at a difficult time.
The role of an equestrian journalist or photographer has not been an easy one either over the past two years and has taxed enterprise. Alongside a decline in print coverage, due to shrinking budgets and paper stocks, plus a general lack of interest at management level, the very welcome and steady rise of livestreaming, much of it excellent and more or less a given at the higher levels, is providing stiff competition and rather negating the need for anything less than properly analytical reporting.
However, we still have the great Christmas party that is Olympia, albeit in its new east London home, to look forward to and I hope to see as many of you as possible at the AGM and reception to be held in the North Gallery of the ExCel centre, level 1 on Thursday December 16.
Jo Peck, the always helpful press officer, will provide day passes for all attending.
Andrew Baldock, BEWA Chairman
BEWA TROPHY 2021
Please vote for one of the following 2021 medallists:
Sir Lee Pearson
BEWA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT 2021
Please vote for one of the following:
Carl Hester, six time Olympian and architect of Britain’s success
Liz Inman, who retired after 40 years at Burghley, 16 of them as director
Andrew Nicholson, retiring after 40 years of international competition
Richard Waygood, World Class Performance Manager
Email your votes to our Treasurer, Lynne Reed, at: email@example.com
Voting closes on Friday November 26.
The AGM and reception is open to paid-up BEWA members only. Please renew your subscription (£25) via bank transfer to the British Equestrian Writers’ Association HSBC account number 71298291, sort code 40-38-18.
BEWA AGM & DRINKS RECEPTION
The AGM will be held in the North Gallery, level 1 at the ExCel Centre, London, on Thursday 16th December 2021 from 2pm to 3pm. This will be followed by a
Drinks Reception from 3.15pm to 5pm when the annual awards will be presented.
If you have not already done so, could you please let firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday November 26 whether or not you will be attending.
I shall/shall not be attending the AGM on Thursday 16th December 2021
I shall/shall not be attending the drinks reception on Thursday, 16th December 2021
Special dietary requirements………………………………………………………………..