Laura's Viewpoint

By: Horse Deals

Laura's Viewpoint
Beluga stays within her comfort zone to take the £2,500 prize at Newbury

Outdoors or in? Laura hardly knows where she is at the moment. But her horses are in terrific form

When "normal" people talk about the seasons changing, they mean summer to autumn, but for we show jumpers, it’s the move from the wide-open spaces outdoors into the confines of indoor arenas for the winter season.

It’s not too smooth a transition either. In the past month, my horses jumped indoors and outdoors at Scope, then outdoors at an international show in France and the final county shows. And by the time you read this, they will have jumped indoors and outdoors at Arena UK’s Festival, before we make our annual pilgrimage to the NEC for HOYS.

I consider myself hugely fortunate that my "girls" — Limelight de Breve (Lulu) and Beluga (Bella) — don’t seem to care whether they’re indoors or out. They really are an extraordinary pair of mares. They both love the job so much that I sometimes think they don’t even notice where they are. Put a course of fences in front of them and off they go, like little clockwork horses!

One horse who is sensitive to where he jumps is Roller Coaster. He’s only eight and has had a huge season, including jumping in a five-star Nations Cup at Lisbon. And he’s also living proof that Irish horses can take longer to produce because he’s now reverted to being a four-year-old at county shows!

He’s had his eyes on stalks and acted as though he’s never seen a fence before. But get him indoors and the old Roller Coaster comes out of hiding.

I felt so sorry for him over his phobia that I chose not to jump him in the season’s big finale at Newbury. This was the venue for the final of the BSJA’s International Stairway series and carried a £2,500 first prize.

I wasn’t in contention for the overall champion’s prize, so I put everything into winning the final. It came off brilliantly, although it was a bit of a surprise when Bella finished first and Lulu was fourth.

Bella has improved so much this year. She’s only tiny and I know plenty of people thought she wouldn’t have the scope to go on, but she’s now coping so easily with the biggest of tracks. The most difficult tracks now seem within her comfort zone and I’m beginning to wonder how far she can go. It’s all very exciting.

Like the girls, Oz has always seemed pretty unfazed by anything I ask him to do and he was fabulous here. We had a misunderstanding and he ran past fence four, but he actually jumped all the fences clear, and when you consider that there were only three clears, that’s some achievement.

His aim has always been the Foxhunter final at HOYS. He was pretty green there in last year’s newcomers final, but this time he has the seven- and eight-year-old class the day before, so he should be more used to the atmosphere by the big one. You can’t be confident with young horses, but I’m certainly hopeful.

We bought Oz off a video of him loose jumping as a three-year-old. We’ve never had a bad horse from the French stud where he was bred and he wasn’t expensive either!

What I love about all the "Breve" horse is their temperaments. If they were people, you’d call them "well brought up"!

Oz isn’t directly related to Lulu, but he’s very similar in his will to win and desire to clear fences. But whereas Lulu’s happy just to eat and jump, Oz is a real character. He’s so cheeky and is always playing the fool. He’s a joy to be around.

I can’t go this month without touching on the big talking point of Britain’s possible relegation from the top Nations Cup league. This is something that could indirectly affect every rider due to a downturn in sponsorship. But part of me can’t help thinking it might be a good thing.

What we need now is to take a deep breath and try to sort out the mess before it gets worse. To be honest, we’ve not been at the top for a while and this might be what Britain needs to get things sorted.
After all, much as we’d like them to be, John and Michael Whitaker won’t be on the circuit forever!