It’s getting easier and easier to watch equestrian sports without having to leave the comfort of home. I resisted the temptation (and the persuasion of a couple of buddies) to get myself to Spruce Meadows for the Masters this past weekend; my decision to stay home was made easy by the fact that last week I suffered complete technical failure. Our Subaru was still getting deer entrails removed from its front end, my beloved VW Westfalia continued to stymie the mechanics with multiple clutch and drive shaft issues (how do you manage to bend a drive shaft, anyway?), and my main work computer crashed – really crashed. Staying home was my only option. At least my horse isn’t lame…touch wood.
Much to my delight, I turned on CBC Saturday evening (yes, I do watch CBC, though not their painfully unfunny and embarrassing sit-coms) to find coverage of that afternoon’s Nations Cup at the Masters. I had missed the calamities of the first round (Meredith’s crash, Angelique Hoorn’s horse getting hurt, Captain Canada’s 17 faults), but caught the entire second round. Canada’s fourth placed result was hardly the stuff of legend that we’ve lately come to expect, but Mexico fully earned their third place. Their throwaway scores in both rounds were 5 faulters; Canada’s were 17 and 12. The untouchable Dutch walked away with the title, in spite of being down one horse. It’s quite impressive what those folks in orange have been achieving lately, isn’t it?
Rolex ran ads featuring their number one poster girl and boy – Meredith and Rodrigo – during the CBC coverage. One of the Rodrigo ads was pretty strange. It just showed him lunging a horse. I can’t say lunging is up there on the list of most exciting things people do with horses, and the horse wasn’t even sporting a Pessoa Lunging Aid. Shot in an indoor arena with soft light and dramatic camera angles, the ad was probably meant to come across as artsy or romantic, but I think it was dumb.
Between rounds, the cameras would periodically cut to the warm up. Captain Canada was filmed doing something rather strange with Redefin. Instead of doing what the other riders typically do in a final warm up (like jump a fence), he walked Redefin over a pole that was raised about 10 inches off the ground. The horse didn’t just hit the pole with one foot. He clobbered it and tripped hard with his hind legs. I couldn’t tell if Ian ‘helped’ Redefin get so entangled in the pole, and I’m certainly no expert on the finer points of warming up for a major show jumping round; but the manoeuvre looked kind’a dirty to me. Redefin did go clear in his second round so I guess it just shows what a pro El Capitan really is.
Eric and Hickstead were their usual lamazing selves with double clears, and nearly took the CN the next day – losing to McLain with the homely and steadfast Sapphire by less than 3/100ths of a second in the jump off. Time IS money: in terms of cash not won, that works out to over $41,500 per 100th of a second. Here is a little media tip for Eric: take your sunglasses off for the TV interviews. It’s easier to become a media darling if the interviewer – and the world – can see your peepers.
And speaking of media darlings, the dressage world has gone completely drooly and googly-eyed over Edward. Ken Braddick has a video interview on www.dressage-news.com and Chris Stafford has an audio interview on http://dressageradio.horseradionetwork.com. Both interviews cover pretty much the same ground, but if you enjoy gazing at Edward, go to Ken’s interview. There are a couple of funny moments when a look of ‘someone rescue me from this’ passes over Edward’s face. If you would rather hear Chris mispronounce Totilas (there is no ‘r’ in there Chris) and get some detail about what the stallion is like at home as a personality, listen to Chris’ interview – you can fast forward through the drudgery at the start of the broadcast by dragging your mouse over the bar that shows how far along you are.
Finally, I am pleased to report that FEI TV has at last put up all the European Championship coverage for both disciplines. The individual show jumping final is edge-of-your-armchair good, even if you already know what the outcome is.