The spring team chase season was a disaster as far as the weather was concerned and I only managed to run Denman in one before losing our lead rider to London Marathon preparations. Everything was postponed and all the organisers did a fantastic job in rearranging their dates, stewards, fence judges and course-builders to accommodate us at all.
The team chase we did get to was the Berks and Bucks at Kingsclere. The Baldings did an excellent job on the course. It is up a hill, round some trees and then down a steep hill to the finish. Denman was super up the hill, particularly agile jumping through the trees and then got a little strong with me going down the hill. In our excitement we committed the cardinal sin of overtaking our lead rider. However, we got back in to position and finished our first team chase together with a huge grin on both our faces.
To cap the day, Clare and Emma Balding came and said hello to Denman. I have just read Clare’s book My Animals and Other Family — it is a delightful read and much recommended. I am a huge fan of Clare’s and her coverage of the Olympics, after which she deservedly won a BAFTA, was second to none.
After Highclere we had to stand down Andrew Shipley (our lead rider), so he did not injure himself prior to the London Marathon and I decided to rough Denman off. Andrew ran the marathon for the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance in memory of Jo Rugman, our former team-mate. He raised in the region of £5,000, which is wonderful. I’m so proud of Andrew — I could never run in the Marathon and think it really is an amazing achievement for anyone who does it.
One to watch in the future is Tom Symonds, who is a talented National Hunt trainer. He ran the marathon in 2hr38min and finished 138th out of about 37,000 runners. His horses are certainly ones to watch if he has been training up the same gallop. What an impressive first run for a non-professional runner.
The horses are now out in their summer quarters, which is a huge field with some lovely horse chestnut trees. It’s just like a Herring picture of the horses standing under the trees. However, they still have their winter rugs on as it is rather cold and the grass took ages to grow, so I have only just got them out at night.
So we are all looking forward to having some time off now. Have a happy summer everyone!