Coral Keen’s eventing blog: This time next week…Burghley

  • This time next week I will be taking Derby, pictured (Wellshead Fare Opposition)  for a hack around Burghley, all being well! I can’t believe how quickly the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials has come round, and how relaxed I am about it compared to last year.

    We had a fantastic run at Hartpury in the CIC3* which was great, as you never really know how they will come out of a big run having competed in the CCI4* at Luhmuhlen.

    He was a little bit on his toes on the flat but jumped a super double clear and was much more controlled. I didn’t push him for the time at all but he only ended up with 2.6 time penalties.

    He’s been galloping well since and thanks to the rain, which we are all probably sick of now, I’ve been able to canter him up on Salisbury Plain again. I believe it will make a huge difference to prepare him on similar ground to Burghley.

    I’ve been having regular flatwork sessions with Olivia Oakley but sadly not with Nick Burton as he is judging at Burghley. I’ve also had a lesson with David Hunt, which was fantastic.

    I got my passes through the post yesterday, which was exciting, and it’s starting to feel more real now. We’re number 65 so I hope that’s a good number to be! Last year I was really nervous during the build up, and I had lot of things go wrong in my preparation. This year I am slightly concerned I am too relaxed!

    Today (Wednesday) I am going to West Wilts Equestrian Centre to run through my test a couple of times and pretend it’s the real thing. Derby will be plaited up and I will wear my top and hat and tails so he’ll think he is doing the test for real. It’s an actual competition too where I can choose which ever test I want to do so there will be a bit of atmosphere so Derby will be fooled. There will probably be a few riders there preparing for Burghley. Later in the week I am having a jump with Corinne Bracken and he’ll have one more canter.

    Zoe has really clicked with Tom Grant who rides beautifully. She’s a big, strong, powerful horse and I always felt I had to use my hands to control her, rather than my weight, which isn’t ideal. Tom came here for a lesson with Corinne and I asked if he’d have a sit on her and they clicked immediately. She won a competitive intermediate novice section on a runaway score of 23 at Bicton Arena at the weekend and she’ll now run in a couple of open intermediate classes before Osberton CCI2*. It would be wonderful if Tom could find an owner for her so that he can keep the ride as she’s for sale.

    The other horses have been going really well. Jake (Highmead Proposition) moved up a level at Wilton to novice and he proved that he was ready to do that with a nice dressage and a very comfortable double clear to finish fourth in his section.

    He started the season lacking in confidence but he has really flourished and come into himself and is a lovely horse. He’ll do South of England CIC* and then Osberton CCI*.

    Lola (Cascadelle) has been on super form. She’s had a couple of quieter weeks after a good run at Dauntsey and then went to West Wilts for the open novice and did really good test and did a double clear. I went very steady to save her for the one star at Bicton where she was a little tense in the main arena but tried hard. We felt that with the amount of rain there that we’d save her for another day. It was great shame as it was a beautiful track and would have been great education.

    We’re now going to Treborough followed by Gatcombe CIC* and then the six-year-old championships at Osberton.

    April (Total Belief) has also been on great form. She’s now starting to go through a bit of a teenage stage. She’s angelic at home, but at events she is starting to feel the success a little bit and is being a bit of a handful around the lorry. It makes me smile as they all seem to go through the same at this stage. She’s been going really well and we’re just wracking up experience, taking her to places where she’ll have good educational runs so that she has a good grounding for her future. She’s qualified for the five-year-old championships at Osberton as well.

    Pluto (Aphrodisiac) is coming back to good form. I ‘m not putting any pressure on him to see if he can come back to top level following his hip injury. I am just so pleased to be riding him again as I love him to bits.

    I had a rare weekend off eventing and I thought it would be a good idea to do something constructive so I went to the three-day showjumping show at Bicton Arena. It really benefitted Jake, Pluto, Lola and Derby. It especially did Derby the world of good. We did a lot of good steady doubles clears.

    I’d jumped all four horses by 10am on the Saturday and coached one of my pupils, before I headed to Charlie and Rosa Unwin’s wedding near Wellington and then came back to Bicton later to jump the next day. Multi-tasking at its best!

    The organizers of the Eventing Family’s charity do at Bicton Arena deserve a huge pat on the back. It was a fabulous event and raised a lot of money for their four nominated charities. I was slightly embarrassed to be auctioned as a ‘general dogsbody’ but very pleased to add £800 to the pot.

    I am looking forward to providing daily updates for Horse & Hound during Burghley, as well as some video blogs. Fingers crossed things go a little better than last year!


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