As the British eventing calendar is pummelled by more and more cancellations (yes, that’s two out of my three runs so far abandoned, not that I’m counting or anything), the smug souls who decided to start their season in sunny Portugal are surely patting themselves on the back. We wouldn’t know for sure, because we’re only watching from afar – but all evidence posted by our friends at the Irish Eventing Times would suggest that there’s plenty of reason to do so.
Portugal’s premier event is a two-week extravaganza, jam-packed with hot competition from 1*-4* and featuring some of the sport’s biggest names, determined not to be struck out by a little bit of wet stuff falling from the sky. This week’s competition, which features the crown jewel 4*-L, also offers up an early chance to get Tokyo qualifications done and dusted – although eligible riders have until this summer to get their Minimum Eligibility Requirements banked, there’s much to be said for getting them in the books nice and early, and then buying stock in bubble wrap.
Week one of Barroca belonged almost exclusively to Cathal Daniels, who ran away with top honours in the CCI2*-S (Shannondale Mari) and the CCI3*-S (OLS King Aragon). This week’s looking no different: he goes into tomorrow’s cross-country in top spot with OLS King Aragon, the only horse to post a sub-30 score in the CCI4*-L. We’ll bring you a full round-up of how the competition plays out, but in the meantime, enjoy this course preview – and a bit of much-needed escapism, if you’re stuck in England at the moment – from Irish Eventing Times. As you’ll see, the season opener doesn’t mess around – it’s full of airy timber and some combinations that will require positive riding and quick thinking. Somehow, we expect the European bronze medalist isn’t too worried.
Run fast, go well, and drink plenty of port, chums.