I can’t explain the feeling of leading your horses into the stunning stables at Badminton Horse Trials. The yard isn’t just exactly how you would imagine it; the echoing of the horses shoes on cobbles as you walk through the arches sends shivers down your spine. The reality has only just sunk in; I’m at Badminton and I’m actually competing!

I have to say, although the organisers stick far more rigidly to the rules than I’m used to (minor panic with the medical armband) we have been very well looked after. The new lorry, Betsy, has held up the Team China flag with dignity (although maybe with a little less flair than her predecessor) and looks very much the part parked next to Piggy and Dan Sibley.

Jeans and Maggie are both well and happily settled into their luxurious quarters. Jane Gregory very kindly fitted a couple of emergency last minute lessons on Tuesday afternoon and we covered a lot of ground with both in a short amount of time. I now feel much more confident with the direction and feel I need to be going for.

Trot-up was this afternoon and what a palaver it proved to be. Who could have imagined so many people would be present to watch the first vet inspection — that’s proper dedication! Jeans was drawn first so it was with him I walked through the arch. Unfortunately, he was sent to the holding box by the ground jury — not the most relaxing moment of my life! I quickly trotted Maggie, who passed without hesitation, then went to the holding box to have a chat to the vet and see what his deliberation was.

The vet thought that he looked minorly stiff behind. However, as he felt both legs, he was clear in his mind that it was just the way that Jeans moved and it wasn’t an injury of any kind. We decided to represent him and thankfully he was passed! It’s really a horrible feeling to have all of your dreams balancing on a knife’s edge.

Anyway, with that episode behind us, preparation for Jean’s test tomorrow morning is going well. I’m hoping Jane will be able to make it to warm us up and get my mind into gear. Maggie is on at 2:30 on Saturday.

I had a little wander around the course this afternoon after the rider’s briefing and there are definitely a couple of intimidating fences. The Hexagon Hedge is really quite scary and frankly the Outlander Bank looks unjumpable standing at the bottom, however, both Maggie and Jeans have proven themselves totally at three-star level and are more than ready for the step up!

Wish me luck!

Alex