Thrilling competition at Burghley produces a nail biting finish to a fantastic weekend of sport.


Guest Blog By Jacqui Broderick


After a spring marred by drought the heaven’s opened just in time to swamp the summer

schedule of events and shows. Badminton was the first to go followed by Chatsworth and

a host of others. After a summer which broke all records for rainfall the week leading up to

Burghley was a tense one. Would the rain which had fallen by the bucket load stay off long

enough for the event to be held? Thankfully it did and lovers of all things equestrian flooded

into the breathtaking parkland surrounding Burghley House.


Of course every event of this size can’t be hosted without its share of problems. Ours came in

the form of a hotel that refused to be found, even with the most precise of directions and then

there was the cheerful bowler hat clad official who gaily waved a stream of vehicles in the

wrong direction, only for us to be parked patiently on the road for an hour before some bright

spark realised something was very definitely wrong.


But, bumping slowly over fields of barely dry mud, not daring to contemplate what the tracks

would be like if the ominously grey skies gave us yet another downpour, it was impossible

not to feel a huge surge of excitement when the magnificent opulence of Burghley House

came into view.


It wasn’t hard to imagine how Sinead Halpin had to be feeling over the weekend. The 30 year

old American had nothing but success during the US 2011 season. However she still failed

to win a place on the ultimately unsuccessful Olympic squad. Halpin, with her French bred

Manoir de Carneville lead after the dressage at Burghley. Her penalty score of 36.3 put her

ahead of the following nine horses all closely bunched with scores in the early 40s.


The cross country course rode beautifully for most of the competitors. Mary King retired

after an unfortunate run out in the early stages of the cross country. It is a tribute to the

bravery and long hours of training the horses and riders put in how easy they made the big

solid obstacles look.


Halpin, a former pupil of eventing maestro William Fox Pitt, retained her lead after cross

country and thus was the last to compete in the show jumping arena. The red post boxes

which caused so much trouble in the Olympics proved to be the bogey fence yet again being

thudding to the ground time after time. Such was its power that riders that did leave the red

poles standing seemed to go to pieces with relief after it and forget to ride the remaining

fences properly.


Every one of the spectators must have been rooting for Sinead Halpin as she rode into the

arena with two fences in hand. What a fairy tale a Burghley win would be. Sadly it was not

her day and the support of the spectators was not enough to keep the fences standing with

three eventually clattering to the ground to make Andrew Nicholson the eventual winner.

Riding Rosemary and Mark Barlow’s 12-year-old Avebury, the New Zealander went into

the ring in second place and had one fence down, the final element of the treble at six. This

guaranteed him the runner-up spot and gave Halpin two fences in hand.


Unfortunately for Halpin Manoir De Carneville hit fence three, fence nine and the second

part of the double at 12 ultimately giving them second place and giving Nicholson his third

Burghley title, twelve years since his last one.


William Fox-Pitt, attempting to win his seventh Burghley title, and Parklane Hawk rose from

joint fourth after the dressage to finish in third place after the cross-country phase.


Burghley was not the place for the Irish riders to shine. Geoff Curran’s ride the chestnut

Shanaclough Crecora, who lay in 10th place after cross country, was spun on Sunday morning

on re-inspection after being sent to the holding box. Sam Watson finished the best of the Irish

riders coming 30th on Horseware Bushman with a final penalty score of 87.


Taking her defeat with true stoicism Halpin said: “I’m disappointed but I’m also proud of

him(Manoir De Carneville) — he tried really hard. This week has been amazing — I’m so

lucky to have the horse and we’ll be back again and again and again.”

Ian Stark Course Walk Tatts 2012

Just over the top...

A huge thank-you to the fantastic Mr Ian Stark for walking us around his course at Tatts. It was fascinating to get his perspective on it.


Facebook Comps….The New Rules


While we were all waiting on Timeline for Pages becoming mandatory, Facebook took a very hard line on the ways that you could run Facebook competitions.

This was mostly in an attempt to get everyone in line before the change over. It seemed all very draconian, No Photo comps, No Liking and Sharing etc.

In reality it was all in preparation for the new tools that Facebook was rolling out with  Timeline.

Since the changeover, Facebook have taken a different tack with new rules below, but before you get caught up in what they’re not allowing you to do, have a look at the positives:

  • Facebook have provided Apps on Facebook to help you run better competitions
  • They are encouraging you to drive traffic back to your own website. ( Never forget with your own site you are completely in control of everything on the page)
  • They have encouraged us to be a little more creative in our marketing ideas.
Yes they have done some very specific ass-covering from a legal stand point, but then again, we are all quite protective of our own companies/businesses or brands, so it’s not surprising that they want to distance themselves from spurious content.
If you are still of the opinion that the best thing you can do is ask people to like and share, then don’t be surprised if you find your business page disabled, you have been warned.
On the other hand, if you are interested in using the new features to continue bringing your service or product to a wider audience, get someone on board who can run Apps on Facebook for you. If you want to give it a go yourself, pop over to the fantastic Blogspot for the following post


Below is the official Facebook line on it all…..


If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion (such as a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals). Please note that compliance with these guidelines does not constitute the lawfulness of a promotion. Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law, please consult with an expert.

i.    Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.

ii.    Promotions on Facebook must include the following:

a.    A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.

b.    Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

c.    Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.

iii.    You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.

iv.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.

v.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.

vi.    You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.

vii.    Definitions:

a.    By “administration” we mean the operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.

b.    By “communication” we mean promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook, e.g., in ads, on a Page, or in a Wall post.

We reserve the right to reject or remove Pages for any reason. These terms are subject to change at any time.

Timeline……Getting your Head around it!


So now that all the Pages have officially moved to Timeline on Facebook, how are you all getting on?

I’ve had a lot of feedback over the last few weeks…..some people love it , some hate it, but you can’t ignore it.

Although most of us don’t like change, it’s now time to embrace it. Now is the time to take the opportunity to completely revamp your Facebook Image.

A makeover if you like.

This new format allows you to really take control of your marketing and to measure the level of engagement from each post.

Let’s look at the new features:

  • Cover Photo: Make sure that you have a picture here that is really worth a thousand words. It is worthwhile getting a really good image for your cover photo as this is what people will identify with your business.
  • Views and Apps: This is where your link to Photos, Likes etc now lives. You have the ability to change the images on a number of these badges to make them more in keeping with your brand… Take this opportunity.
  • Pinned Posts: On the top Left Hand side of your post you will now find an Edit or Remove option. This allows you the option of Pinning your Post. This means that it will stay at the top of your page for 7 days. This has advantages and disadvantages, as people tend to flick through pages quickly, they may not be aware of newer content if they return to your page to see the same post at the top. However if it is a post that has drawn in a lot of engagement, then it gives you the chance to make the most out of it.
  • Highlight Post: The new Star button, (also top left of a Post) permits you to highlight a post so that it goes across both columns of the new Timeline layout. It is important to use an image that translates well to the bigger size.
  • Milestones: This is a great chance for you to blow your own trumpet…after all no one else will do it for oyu, so write about your launches, products or other significant Milestones. Don’t be shy!
As well as these new features, Facebook have also given us a new Admin Panel.

Now you no longer have to wonder which of your posts is getting the most attention as the Insights Section in the Admin Panel now does this for you. This allows you to really give your audience what they want. Video links, Photos or Comments, some work better than others, now you can measure their effect.

You can now respond more quickly to Messages and New likes directly from the Admin Panel, allowing you to really create a more personal interaction.

So with all these positives are you ready to Like the new Timeline?

If anyone would like further help or advice on how best to use Facebook to market their business, please contact me

Following Through….


Sometimes we have the best of intentions, but just don’t get around to doing what we know we should.

Often we give ourselves a hard time about it.

It starts to become bigger in our heads than we originally thought.

An insurmountable task. It gives us more reasons to avoid it.


With Websites and Social Media, it’s often Blog posts that suffer the most.

We mean to do it.

We want to do it, but there are so many other very important things that need to be done first.


I think that Nike have it right…Just do It!


It doesn’t have to be War and Peace, or of great interest to the entire world.

It just has to be a few lines that allow you to express yourself.

It can be a rant, a comment, a feeling…Just do It!

You’ll feel fantastic afterwards, and your blog will blossom.

You’ll find that the dreaded task becomes so easy, that you look forward to it, and so will your readers.

It’s easy to castigate ourselves for non completion of a task, however, not everyone is always “On the Ball.”

Sometimes we all drop it from time to time.

A blog is like a conversation with a friend, sometimes you have lots to say, sometimes not.

Allow yourself to enjoy the conversation.


Just Do It!

Blogging gone bad!


There is an ad currently running on Irish Radio, that completely encompasses my blog this morning. It starts with a man giving a tedious Power Point presentation, in a droney voice which is then replaced by a more interesting way of getting the same message across.

Why oh why do so many people have to write their blogs in either a moany/droney or preachy way?

Why don’t they just say what they mean and stop talking down to us?

The Blog in question shall remain nameless, needless to say, I have unfollowed them, so I have made my lack of interest known in that way, but they are not alone.

There are quite a few really interesting Horse Blogs out there, @pollson is the best for rider tips! There are even, though I know some of you won’t believe it,  quite a few erudite, and amusing Techie blogs out there!

I love to read blogs that give me an insight into the reader. I love to read blogs about individuals and their trials and tribulations with their horses/writing/children/computers. They are usually the voices of individuals, and I like meeting new people.

I do have my limits though. If you are going to write a post on increasing your blog attractiveness, or how to improve “feel” when riding, DO NOT make it tedious, unimaginative, boring and inaccessible

If I have to read the same post, over and over and over again, and you’re not saying anything new ….please don’t say anything at all!



New Year, New Site?

I have already had queries from people to update or spring clean their existing sites for 2012!

Great news for me but I have had to look at why.

Why do the majority of businesses I talk to feel their site is not meeting expectations? Are they too high? Unrealistic? Or did they ever meet the criteria that all sites must have… to Sell the Product or Service?

Businesses do not spend their web budget with the idea of “Having a Web Presence” they need their marketing to actually produce results!

So if you are looking at a site that looks tired and dreary, ask yourself one question…what return do I get from this.

If the answer is I don’t know, then it is time to rethink your expectations and be realistic about the message you want to get across, and to examine how you are going to do it.

Perhaps you have a new market, or your business has diversified and the target audience needs to be rethought.

Perhaps the message needs revitalising for the year ahead.

Either way, if you are not getting the return you envisage it’s time to talk to your designer about realistic plans for the new year.


If the answer is none then it’s time to get a new site immediately!

Goodwill Hunting – Social media reality for Business.

Once upon a time, Goodwill would have appeared on your Balance sheets, as a financial reflection of your good standing amongst your customers. It was what was known as an Intangible Asset.

And so endeth the lesson for today on archaic accounting practices.

However should Goodwill be something we are willing to write off so quickly? Does it still hold a valuable position in today’s business world? If so how does Social Media use affect it?

Sometimes something niggles at the back of your mind, and keeps going until you can’t ignore it any more. It’s the proverbial itch waiting to be scratched.

It often is prompted by hearing something that resonates with you and then recedes to the dark spaces of the brain.

Sometime later you receive another little prompt, and if you ignore that you can be guaranteed a full onslaught of related material until you take out the original idea and reexamine the now fully formed notion.

So it was with this post.

A little while ago at dotconf, I listened to Sabrina Dent give an inspired talk about  “Bronies“. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it relates to a whole new world of My little Pony Fans….yes you did read that correctly, who are young? men between the ages of 15 and 55 who love the newly relaunched My little Pony cartoon series released originally for 5-8 year old girls. The “bros” who love Ponies became Bronies,  (God forbid that gets into the OED), and they showed us how fans can elevate a brand above and beyond company expectations.

Anyway, the core of the presentation was on the relationship Brands have with their online community, and how this relationship could be used for good (read Mattel embracing the Bronies) or for ill (See Nestle’s online relationship with Greenpeace).

I loved it because it was exactly how I was advising my customers to behave. To respond in an inclusive way to all reasonable online mentions, and try to maximise the Goodwill existing for your Brand.

A few weeks later I got a little reminder from Ashton Kucher via my twitter stream. One of the most vocal, and possibly the most followed person on twitter (7,587,379 at last count); he had a full on slanging match with the Village Voice in New York. The Village Voice did not come out smelling of roses.

In the last week, I came across two more noteworthy pieces. Both of which caused little sparks in my brain as the synapses crackled. (I couldn’t yet put together all the elements, as is often the case when information is bombarded at us.)

First was an amazingly accurate piece from Ben Hammersly that should stop any business in it’s tracks.

He outlined how quickly technology changes, and how quickly we need to get to grips with this!

His assertion that

” a two term Prime Minister today would end his term of office with an iPhone 64 times as powerful as the one he won the election with. (Or the same thing, but 1/64th of the price.) His policies, therefore, need to written with that future in mind, not the present.

made me realise that here was someone who really gets it. But what was the “it”? The notion still eluded me.

The final piece of the jigsaw presented itself this morning with a podcast from the lovely people atFor Immediate Release. It was an interview with Jeremiah Owyang on Social Business Readiness. Who spoke of crises as something a business is unprepared for. I scratched the itch!

Put together, all of these lead me to the same conclusion.

Now more than ever, small to medium enterprises are relying on word of mouth for business. This need for “Goodwill” amongst our consumers is only the tip of the iceberg. Not only do we rely on Goodwill, but Negative Goodwill, or in common parlance, “a bad review” can really make a difference to our business.

We think we have embraced the internet, with lots of companies and brands starting Facebook pages and Twitter streams. But at the heart of that fallacy lies the crux of my notion.

That we as businesses have been unprepared for the use of Social media.

That we are in crisis.

That we really need to get a grip on what kind of message we are putting out.

That we really want our followers to be like the Bronies, and not spamming our Social Media streams with endless abuse….

The internet has made your own specialised Global Market a very small, and immediately accessible place. It gives your audience a chance to really interact with you. It also allows your audience to tell it how they see it , whether you like it or not.

Social Media hands you the opportunity to be a big fish in your own particular pond, if handled properly,  in a  way that reflects not just you, but everything you and your company stand for in a positive light…your ethos. Handled badly it can expose you as at best inept, at worst … (Again see Nestle)

Nonengagement will not excuse you from poor performance. (People will talk about you even if you’re not there!)

How are we dealing with Social Media? Is our message courting goodwill or bad reviews?

Are you aware of how you are percieved by your online community? What are you doing to make sure that you are breeding Bronies?

Social Media is a marketing tool, in the same way that a scalpel is a surgical tool. Yes I can use it to cut up bits of card for the kids’ school project, but a surgeon uses it in an entirely different way. To realise it’s true potential it needs to be wielded by someone who knows what they are doing.

People are  aware of the real value of their data as they allow it to be used for various marketing ploys, don’t be mistaken here. We do know what we’re doing when we give our information to Tesco, or iTunes etc., even if we don’t want to think too much about it.

Why are we so surprised when our audience question the true value of what we put out on Social Media.


Friday’s Dressage updates!!

Wow, the action really hotted up today, with lots more visitors there today to catch the second part of the Dressage.

Zara Philips took the lead today in the  CIC*** class on Lord Lauries, some 4 points ahead of Ireland’s Patricia Ryan from Bandon, Co Cork on Ballylynch Wizard, leaving Lucy Wiegersma on Shaabrak in third position followed by Oliver Townend in fourth and fifth on Pepper Anne and Jeepers Creepers. The CIC*** class do their cross country and show jumping on Sunday.

The main cross country action will take place tomorrow, Saturday, for all the other classes.

The Dunboyne Castle Pony class will be on course at 8.30 am, followed by the Tattersalls Ireland Autumn Festival of Eventing Junior class and the Rookery Park Stud CCI*.

The Irish Field CCI*** competitors tackle Ian Stark’s new cross country course at about 1.45pm followed by the Eventing Ireland Under25 class and finishing with the Rookery Park Stud CCI**.

After today’s dressage phase Louisa Lockwood and The Leopard have a narrow lead over William Fox-Pitt on Lady Voltaire in the CCI* class with Aaron Millar on Captain Hook in third. Co Down’s Suzanne Jordan is highest of the Irish in sixth place in this very competitive class on Da Capo Two.

The Under 25 class is led by New Zealander Jesse Campbell on Kaapachino with British riders filling the next 6 places with Angus Smales on Clover Hero in second place and Angus Humfrey in third. Kildare based James Clegg on Kincluny is highest of the Irish in eighth position.

Kerry based Katie Moffat leads the Junior class on Pick and Mix II ahead of GB’s David Doel on Kings Cross in second and Koyuna Sun Magic in third.

The family focussed fun of the Country Fair will be in full swing tomorrow with activities for all interests and ages, from bucking broncos and horse shoe throwing  to archery and rifle range, a Punch and Judy Show and merry-go-round as well as dog show and pony rides adding to the atmosphere.