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Burghley first-timer’s blog: Coral Keen’s final preparations

Burghley debutante Coral Keen will be blogging for H&H in the run up to and during this year's Burghley Horse Trials (4-7 September). Follow her journey with Wellshead Fare Opposition aka Derby here

The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials became very real when the tickets arrived in the post on Tuesday. In just a few days time Derby and I will be setting out across one of the most daunting cross-country courses in the world.

So far, I feel remarkably calm and Derby is exactly where I need him to be. After a few days away at Blair with Zoe and Wiverna, I returned in the early hours of Sunday morning. I didn’t feel quite as fresh as my horses but it was great to sit on Derby again.

Emily Kelly (Coral’s groom) did a wonderful job while I was away, keeping him fit with plenty of hill work on Salisbury Plain and lungeing him in the school to keep him supple. It really brought it home to me how incredibly lucky I am to have such a great team behind me.

I schooled Derby on Sunday and then on Monday took him and Pluto (Aphrodisiac) to Wellington. With Derby I rode the advanced dressage test and I was very pleased with him. I have a few things to polish up on ready for next week. Pluto did his advanced test, showjumped, tipping just one unlucky pole, and then we ran over a few cross-country fences before pulling up. He’s off to Waregem in a couple of week’s time to contest a three-star.

I worked out Derby’s fitness programme a few weeks ago with Yogi Breisner, and if all went according to plan, today (Thursday), he needed to have reached peak fitness.

I took him to the local gallops this morning where he cantered for eight minutes twice, with a two-minute break in between. Then we had two fast pulls up the one-mile gallop. He felt great and I am confident that our fitness plan will have paid off.

On Sunday, Derby will go to Parwood, where I will have a lesson with Corinne Bracken. She flies in from Hong Kong for two hours and then she flies out again to Ireland. It will be ideal, as it will mean I really focus on him.

On Monday I will take them both to Kitty King’s near Cirencester, where I will go through dressage test movements with Nick Burton.

So many people have been so helpful in the lead up to Burghley including Saracen Horse Feeds, who also sponsor me. They are fantastic to have on the end of the phone for all my feeding queries. They have a stand at Burghley so do pop in and say hello.

I’ve sent my air jacket in for a service with Point Two so that it will be ready for Burghley. Having had the bad accident I had a Boekelo in 2011, it’s a piece of equipment I take very seriously and the guys at Point Two are really supportive.

I’ve also had a bit of a wardrobe dilemma as the trot-up is a bit of a fashion show. Katherine Partis of Katherine Partis Ltd, a small Bath-based company, has come up trumps and given me some clothes and suggested a complete outfit.

It’s something else I can now tick off my long list that helps keeps my head in one place as we count down the last few days.

I’m feeling good and getting excited that it is all starting to become very real now rather than something way ahead in the future. The logistics are all starting to come together. Ahead of Burghley I have Ballindenisk and Waregem and its good to have another focus as I’m quite excited about the horses I will be taking there.

Next week is a huge week for both me and Derby and above all, I want him to have a great experience too. I will be on his back a lot so I want him to feel fresh and good when I get there, not fatigued because I have worked him too hard this week. Hopefully we’ll get the balance just right so that when he comes off the lorry next Tuesday he will feel like a million dollars.

Coral

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