I think Derby (Wellshead Fare Opposition) is feeling a little too well! Having warmed up beautifully before his dressage test in the advanced at Withington Manor Horse Trials, he was then a monkey in the arena and became quite tense and fresh. It meant he threw away some marks, so I won’t be fooled by that old trick again!
He still gained a very competitive mark and showjumped really well to just roll a pole. Cross-country he absolutely flew around and gave me an incredible feeling (pictured). If I’m honest I had some butterflies as I haven’t jumped over a big track since Waregem in the Autumn.
When you’re competing at this level week in, week out it’s no big deal, but when you have one horse it’s quite different. He really showed me what an incredible horse he is as he got me out of a sticky situation at some tricky corners early on.
With so many young horses in the yard, I had momentarily forgotten to trust him on a line rather than try to set him up and show him exactly where to go, as I would on a young horse. I tried to do this with Derby instead of trusting him and we met the third element on a tricky stride. He really helped me out and wanted to jump between the flags. I’m so lucky to have a horse that is so genuine and loves his job. He felt spot on everywhere else. He wasn’t going to be placed so I decided to have a steady round and didn’t push him.
Lola (Cascadelle) did a nice test in the novice and has improved since Portman. She seemed much more relaxed and did a really good double clear, but I made the decision to go steadily with her. I want to get some miles under her belt rather than worry too much about the results.
I’ve been doing a lot of teaching, training riders up to and beyond BE100 level. They’re all going really well and it’s a rewarding part of the job. It’s lovely seeing people progress and how much joy people get from their horses when they start getting the results they’ve worked so hard for.
On Saturday I galloped the horses early so I could watch Badminton on the red button. I thought the course was great. It caused problems all over the place and it was a good fair track – neither too soft nor too difficult. Of course the weather has a huge role in this and fortunately it was kind to us this year.
I’m glad I wasn’t having to toy with the idea of jumping the Vicarage Vee and I think I would have taken the long route! I was nervous just watching people. It’s an accuracy question, but I personally don’t think there’s anything particularly clever about the fence. Having been brave and stayed on their line and jumped, some horses didn’t deserve to fall in the ditch on the other side.
It was great to see Kirsty Johnston, a good friend of mine, go so well.
Kirsty’s family own Team Opposition and they had Fleetwater Oppostion who is Derby’s sire. We’ve had a few horses from them in the past and they are such a lovely family.
There was some really good riding. Izzy Taylor is always exceptional. She really gave Allercombe Ellie a great ride around her first four-star. She was very green and when she got tired she rode her home really quietly. She’s a great role model for young people in the sport.
It was so lovely watching Ben Hobday go round and watching his interview afterwards I had a tear in my eye. He’s had an amazing comeback and he and Mulrys Error have such a wonderful partnership.
It really reminded me why we do this sport – it’s for the horses and the bond you have with them. It’s hard to explain that to someone who’s not involved with horses but it is so special when we come through the finish and we are so ecstatic as the horse has given us so much.
He went round the course with Willberry Wonder Pony tucked into his body protector which was wonderful to see.
My partner Oliver and I went to Hannah Francis’ 18th birthday party and it’s so amazing that Willberry Wonder Pony is now an official charity and she has helped raise over £100,000. She really is an inspirational and wonderful person.
Read more from Coral Keen:
Corrine Bracken came yesterday and we jumped all the horses. Jake (Highmead Proposition) and Derby are eventing at Aston-le-Walls Horse Trials today. Jake is doing his first intermediate and Derby will run in the open intermediate. It wasn’t in the plan but match fitness won’t do him any harm ready for Houghton Hall three-day event in a couple of week’s time.