It’s been a sad week in the Team China camp. Two days ago my groom Mark and I sadly waved goodbye to our wonderful lorry (pictured) on the motorway services of the M40.

“Linda” (the truck) carried me to the Olympics and over the past two years has been the symbol of Team China in her shiny red and black livery. Now she will be carrying the flag for Team Hollings and I am sure she will have a mention in Stuart’s showing column in Horse & Hound.

Team China’s flagship is now called Betsie, a lovely old 1996 Oakley and I am sure you will be seeing her around the circuit in the not too distant future. Anyway, let me move onto other news before I burst into tears.

World Horse Welfare is the official charity for Badminton Horse Trials this year. They asked a while back if I would do an interview with them to promote their cause for the competition this year. I was hugely flattered that they asked me. I happily invited them down to the yard to introduce them to my horses. Some people may not realise that World Horse Welfare used to be the ILPH, something I only just realised myself. They are a hugely worthy cause and hopefully the video will be available to go up in next week’s blog.

Mixed results at South of England

Last weekend we made a small outing to South of England with Maggie (Magenta) and Fiddle (ESB Irish Fiddle). Fiddle was to run quietly around the intermediate before his advanced run at Withington and Maggie was entered to do the pre-Badminton combined training. Let’s just say it was not the most successful day out!

Clayton and Cinda Fredericks had not seen Fiddle working since 2008 and did not recognise him (the fact that he did not have his head in the air like a camel!) However, his good behaviour did not last until his test, and we ended up waving at the judges with our two front feet. Apart from that small disagreement the rest of the test was not too bad. With one down in the showjumping and a slow, calm cross-country, I was pleased enough with his jumping.

I had not realised until recently how unsymmetrical and difficult to remember the Badminton test is, so I was not surprised when I ended up going wrong. It is always embarrassing making mistakes in such an important test, in front of people, but it does happen now and then. Maggie’s rhythm in the trot has improved immeasurably — however, no amount of kicking could give her the zing needed in the canter work.

I think this is the right time to thank the South of England organisers for holding the showjumping for me. I was held on the cross-country with Fiddle while the advanced showjumping was going on and, although I changed over as fast as I could, I was still 10-15 minutes late. I apologise to everyone in the intermediate showjumping after me for delaying everything.

Badminton is now two weeks away and I have made the decision to definitely run Jeans as well as Magenta. I am now sitting in the lorry on the way up to Belton. Fingers crossed that we will finish up with two happy, fit and sound horses ready for their Badminton challenge!

Alex

Don’t miss World Horse Welfare trustee Pippa Funnell’s preview of the Badminton course in Horse & Hound next week (22 April).

Alex’s website