Friday Video(s) from SmartPak: Team Fox-Pitt Improvise an International

In the face of adversity, some men crumble, and some men host pretend international competitions from the comfort of their own homes, or something like that. Welcome to the inaugural Wood Lane Stables International, which takes us to the heart of Hardy country in deepest Dorset, and to the home of eventing legend William Fox-Pitt.

Here he is in all his glory! Today, he hangs up his hat and acts instead as international dressage judge. We’re pretty confident his test sheet comments are going to be something to behold.

And here’s the illustrious test writer – none other than award-winning groom and all-around gem Jackie Potts. We reckon this woman of many talents can probably outpace us in the shorthand stakes, too, and we’re not even mad about it.

First in the ring is Bella Innes-Ker, who won Blenheim’s CCI4*-L in 2018 with Carolyn. Today, though, she’s riding this striking grey, who’s just shot to the top of our Christmas lists.

Travelling groom and Geordie free spirit Adam Short delivers his first test of the day aboard Secret Night. Here’s his post-ride interview with Wood Lane head honcho Alice Fox-Pitt.

Who would dare argue with the judge? But William turns out to be less scarier than expected, offering advice and even allowing riders to view their test sheets before they bring forward their second rides.

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The Judge won’t budge! #woodlaneinternational

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The next test is a special treat for everyone – it’s double WEG medallist Cool Mountain, still looking excellent at the age of 20 and teaching the Wood Lane students a thing or two about life and dressage. Sign us UP.

Team USA throws its hat in the ring next, with Lexi Scovil delivering a smart test on Fox-Pitt homebred Atlantic Vital Spark. Not too shabby for a catch ride.

You can’t keep a good man down, and you can’t keep this Geordie out of the ring – Adam Short returns for his second ride of the day, this time aboard Olympic Test Event competitor Summer at Fernhill.

Ahead of her second ride with new mount Cool Rock Cooley, Bella Innes-Ker touches base with Alice.

Team Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto puts superstar Bernadette Utopia through her paces ahead of her test, proving once again why he’s one of the most formidable new names on the circuit.

He might be a new ride for Bella, but Cool Rock Cooley certainly impresses in the ring.

He did not come to PLAY, guys. King Kazu and Bernadette Utopia throw down the gauntlet late in the day.

Kazu catches up with Alice, and look – it’s really, truly okay if you have a little cry over this one. On a serious note, the postponement of the Olympics affects everyone, but it’s particularly heartbreaking for Team Japan’s eventers, who have given up their lives to their team’s medal efforts. Even so, Kazu is all class in the face of disappointment, and he shows here exactly why he’s one of the sport’s best-loved characters. Stay sunny, Kazu:

Back to business, now – and it’s all change over in the judge’s chair. There’s some dodgy tactics going on over there.

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Big change in the judges chair at #woodlanestablesinternational

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William catches up with wife Alice after his test aboard the gorgeous Baxter, who had been aimed at the 2* at Tattersalls this spring.

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The Boss #woodlanestablesinternational

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It’s a truly global competition here, with four continents represented at Wood Lane Stables:

Every competition must have a prize-giving – and this one’s a social distancing special! We’ve got 2* winners, 4* winners, and elbow-bumps galore:

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Prize giving 🥇 #woodlanestablesinternational

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And that’s all from a very exciting first annual Wood Lane Stables International! Thanks to the gang at Fox-Pitt Eventing for the laughs — and remember, folks, this is proof that even if you can’t go eventing, you can still Go Eventing. Happy Friday!