• Gillian Keegan

A Fantastic Finale

One word pretty much sums up the Equestrian Premier League Final. Wow.

Organised and hosted by Embassy International Riding School (EIRS) the culmination of the six stage competition, which tested riders and horses from all over India, was a glittering success. Building a solid foundation for equestrian pursuits in India has been a goal of Jitu Virwani, Managing Director and Chairman of the Embassy Group, and Silva Storai, Director of EIRS for over ten years. If the A list event that we enjoyed last week is anything to go by, they are doing a fantastic job.

Seated in huge marquee, overlooking an international size show jumping arena, we were treated to some incredible displays of jumping. First were head to head races where riders jumped identical courses at speed, accompanied by sharp intakes of breath from the audience. These weren’t everyday fences - they included meaty spreads, large upright planks which needed only a hoof whisper to fall, and a roll back which meant your horse needed not only to be able clear a decent size jump, but move like a gymnast to get to it.

We were then treated to a parade of stallions and young stock, including one of the nicest pony stallions I’ve seen, either here or overseas, and also India’s first pure bred Arabian foal (oh my goodness, if I could pack her in my suitcase I absolutely would...). I should add that, whilst we oohed and ahhed at some of the most promising sport horses in the country, we were sipping beautiful wines and cocktails, and being served canapés - gravalax tarts, brie with a honey drizzle, crispy arancini balls with spicy tomato sauce and black pepper king prawns. YUM! I was in my happy place.

Next came a three jump grid, which progressively got higher as the competitors rode through it in turn, the riders who went clear going through to the next round. I felt like I was jumping it with them at the end and watched the final jump - a massive 1.75m with hands over my eyes. Absolutely brilliant.

After the prize giving (well done to all of you!) we moved onto more food, courtesy of the Four Seasons hotel, more wine (I don’t mind if I do, thank you) and a fashion show, showcasing some of India’s eclectic designers. This included swimwear which, goodness me, I’m not sure I’d get one leg into, and some beautifully tailored evening wear, which was more my style!

Full to bursting with fresh salads, gnocchi and juicy bbq, we then heaved ourselves to the dance floor for the live band. Having a seven month old baby who’s up before 6am without fail means that my carriage turns into a pumpkin at 10pm. I am reliably informed, however, that the party was in full flow for many hours after we departed. I was asleep, dreaming about winning gold medals on a little Arabian pony, well before the celebrations ended.

What an event - a fantastic end to the league this year, a wonderful evening of entertainment, and, most importantly, a massive boost for responsible equestrian sport here in India.


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