A well-known Doctor who worked at equestrian events all over the country, from Championships to Pony Club events, once referred to Team Chasing as “a special kind of crazy”.
As a sport, it certainly attracts a unique crowd of adrenalin junkies, who travel far and wide every weekend, to get their fix.
The Belvoir’s annual event is blessed. It runs at Garthorpe racecourse, once of the very best point-to-point courses in the country [I would say that, but it is] and conveniently placed in Belvoir country just East of Melton Mowbray. Course builder David Selby utilises the plethora of hedges within the course itself, weaving his track up and down the hill and across some of the most extreme undisturbed ridge and furrow pasture you will see anywhere.
It is quite a tricky course at every level, but the Intermediate, in particular, causes trouble. It is early in the season, before the Open Team points scoring events have started and, to put it bluntly, people are a bit green.
A few years ago now I was offered the role of event photographer for the team chase, when the previous company retired from the game. That first year I recruited my colleague Henry Kinchin from 1st Class Images to do the printing for me and it went well. It was clear to both of us, though, that more photographers were needed to do the event justice and, on the condition that he employed me to help every year, I handed the job over to his company from that point on.
This year we used three photographers and a remote camera to get as much coverage as we could on a weekend when 1st Class Images were also covering two other events elsewhere. The weather was kind and there were plenty of entries. I suspect people were delighted to get out competing.
You can view the full set of images on 1st Class Images’ website. The ones you see here are just a few from my cameras on the day. If you want my help to cover similar events elsewhere, please get in touch.
Tips for photographing team chasing
- Pick a decent sized hedge or fence.
- Try not to shoot into the sun unless it is a water fence.
- If possible position yourself so that the rider is turning towards the camera after the jump. Not always safe!
- Set your camera to continuous autofocus.
- Sit low on the ground, perhaps downhill from the hedge or fence, to make it look as big as possible.
- Frame your shot to include the whole fence – the rider will want to show how big it was and they can’t do that if you have zoomed in on them.
- Lock you focus point onto the horse/rider as they take off and pan with them as you press the shutter release.
- Delete any pics where the horse’s legs are in contact with the ground.