Another week closer to Badminton and time feels like it is flying by far too fast.

I have had a week of very mixed emotions, excitement, nerves and deep sadness.

I found out my number for Badminton early in the week, which is 86. Last year I was right in the middle, doing my dressage last on Thursday afternoon and at Burghley both times I have been right in the middle too, so have done my dressage late on the Thursday.

This year will be different though, Friday dressage and I predict around lunchtime. So there will be maximum crowds and much more atmosphere so Eliot (Big El) had best remember that he has done it all before and there is no need to get stage fright! And that applies to me too, for that matter.

On cross-country day I will be waiting a lot longer for my turn, so this will mean longer for the nerves to kick in. However, on the plus side it will give me more time to watch the fences ridden and when others make them look easy it will give me confidence!

We had another lesson with Tuffy Tilley last week, which was a gruelling session again. Eliot also cantered twice and feels absolutely fantastic, which is very confidence building. He had his blood tested to check all is ok and, touch wood, it is. And he is still being a sweetie on the flat — thank you Eliot!

A sad weekend at Belton

We went to Belton and didn’t have the best of weekends. Kenny (Chequers Playboy) came off the lorry to do his dressage in the seven- and eight-year-old intermediate class and was in a rather bright and sensitive mood. The test was in the main arena and so I don’t think the atmosphere helped my cause.

He did manage to claim a few 8s and 9s, but unfortunately he also ruined a few moves through exuberance. Lesson learnt — Kenny is a little too fit! And this was proved once again in the show jumping, which didn’t go according to plan due to lack of concentration. Having notched up 20 penalties in this phase, I made a decision not to run cross-country.

I didn’t take Eliot as he had run well in his previous outings and it being so close to Badminton we decided to leave him at home. It was one of those events that I had to enter, just in case I hadn’t managed to have the other runs due to one thing or another, but this year the start of the season went according to plan as we had no snow in April or flash floods in March.

Then we heard the very, very sad news that Ian Olding had lost his life in a fall at Belton. This is such tragic news — Ian was a fantastic person and he always made you laugh uncontrollably. He always said what he thought, which made him so very genuine — this seems so rare nowadays. He will be hugely missed by so many.

The plan from here

I’ll be doing one more written diary early next week. Then from Wednesday I’ll be doing a daily audio diary at Badminton, so you’ll be able to hear how I’m getting on straight from the rider’s mouth. Don’t worry if you don’t have facilities to listen in though — someone at H&H has promised to sort out a written summary too.

Dee