Little Chiara earned her three weeks’ holiday after completing her one-star competition and my attention reverted to Dilmun and, of course, Fantom’s ongoing fitness programme.

Fantom is possibly the most difficult horse to train. At home he seems to have the mentality of a riding school hack where all the motivation is kept for the return journey. However, this is coupled with the ability to perform Jekyll and Hyde-like transformations with incredibly spectacular Aires above the Ground!

Now, how to read these extremely exciting moments? A case in point today was a lungeing session over raised poles where, to start off with, he was pretty indifferent then in the blink of an eye he was Pegasus, the winged horse, with the snort of an express train going into a tunnel! They do say a good horse has to have attitude don’t they?

It was Dilmun’s turn for a competition with the inter-regional championships at Cirencester Park. Despite Dilmun’s protests, bathing was a must and every conceivable part was washed and the very white parts, whitened.

We duly arrived at Cirencester, erected a good-sized corral for Dilmun with a fair covering of grass and went to check in. I was gone all of five minutes and when I came back there was just the remains of one poo in the corral, the rest being stuck to at least half the side of Dilmun’s fly rug. Obviously this seeped through and turned my immaculate white/grey horse into a skewbald: just love this horse!

Dilmun desperate to start

I would like to say the day of Dilmun’s race dawned fair but it was raining, not hard but in that annoyingly soaking way for most of the race, making the going slippery in places with mud in the woods. Dilmun is such a professional, knowing his job inside out. We started at the front because we could and trotted and cantered around the 80km, presenting in less than two minutes at each vetgate. We were in the veteran section and duly came fourth after I misread the markers and went off on a jolly of my own, letting two competitors from rival groups come in ahead of me (you’d think I wouldn’t make those mistakes after all these years!). Despite this, our group, the south west, came second and hopefully my mistake didn’t rob us of first place.

Dilmun enjoyed his day I think but that is the last race ride he will do as he no longer has the appetite for the training necessary to compete at that distance. A quieter time now, shorter rides and bossing everyone about at home is the order of the day.

Jostling for position with Dilmun

Three days after getting back from Cirencester we were on the road again. This time to Euston Park on the Norfolk/Suffolk borders with Fantom for the final selection of the squad for the European championships in Brussels.

After a super quick trip (seven hours) we arrived at leisure, walked Fantom about a bit and just chilled (pictured top). Everyone at Euston is always so helpful and attentive which makes such a difference to what could be a slightly stressful occasion. The stables are away from the main competition area but we could see everything set up for the weekend’s races which we would obviously miss due to the selection process we were undergoing; next time…

Fant final assessment at Euston

Continued below…

The following day when everyone had arrived, we were required to go out together on the 20km loop which would be used as part of the weekend’s competitions. This went smoothly and Fantom behaved well, enjoying the near perfect going. Following this we had to do one mile loops at set speeds with short resting periods in between. This was done in the parkland next to the start/finish on carefully mown tracks especially prepared for us: thank you Euston Park Endurance.

Following a final trotting up session we were told who had been selected: YES! We are going to the European championships! Excited doesn’t cover it; wow, wow, wow!
Annie