First off, for the racing world the year could well open with Kauto Star winning the King George VI chase for the fifth time running. A first for any four legged beast.
The eventing season this year is also welcoming two new venues. Both are major gains for the northern eventing scene with "Hopetoun International" hosting 2 international classes. Burgham Horse festival will have classes up to novice as well as showjumping and showing. By the way - the grand prix has a £12,000 prize pot!! Having eventing and showjumping classes on the same day always helps make the most of the day and helps the gate numbers, so there's plenty to be pleased with there.
Eventing also sees some changes to withdrawals and entries this year - although the changes weren't as grand as some had hoped. As always there's the worry of keeping sponsors and in particular the World Cup Series could have issues this coming year. Personally I'd like to see more prize money on offer at events. Eventing's not a cheap sport and never will be so it would be good to see some better prize money at the lower levels. £100 may seem a lot but when it costs £70 to enter it's somewhat swallowed up... There's also been a re-shuffling of the entire junior system which offers greater training opportunities across the board.
On the hunting front there's always that chance of repealing the hunting ban. The bottom line at the moment seems to be that even if it doesn't affect you directly the ban is a bit of a waste of money...and police time... I think it's fair to say that if things happen on that one they'll be a gargantuan party of vast proportions... although there could also be the unpleasant "anti" associated troubles as well...
The dressage world is also holding its breath as it awaits the Totilas story to unfold further. Not just because Totilas will stand at stud but because he'll be out on the circuit with a different rider - gulp. No pressure.
Across the board, 2011 is a pre Olympic year. Things matter now. If you're going to win a 4* nows the time to do it. However, to quote an old saying, "Form is temporary, Class is permanent". I wouldn't be surprised to see a few of the old faces on that podium come 2012.
Trouble is that's only the horse world... We all know too well the turmoil the world seems to be in at the moment. 2011 will see this unfold before us. Will England stay on top or will we fall from grace? Whatever happens in 2011 whether we like it or not we're all stuck in it together. So on our little island in the North Sea perhaps we'll pull it out the bag, show the world and reveal that bit of class that really is permanent. That is forever England.