Today feels like it’s been a very long day, and we aren’t quite finished yet!
I got on Louie [Zero Flight] for the first time at 5:45 this morning, as I wanted to ride him a couple times before his test. It was lovely to school him in the collecting ring first thing as we had it all to ourselves. He worked nicely both times I sat on him (the second time was at 6:45 — all very carefully planned), so he only did 20min each time.
Louie’s test was lovely — one of the best he’s done at four star. He was a little quiet in the trot work, but this meant he wasn’t too strong and I could really ride an accurate test. Louie is never going to be a big mover, and he doesn’t naturally have a great canter, but his rideability and presence do make up for that.
He only scored a 56.7, which was a shame as I thought it was better than that. I won’t dwell on that though, because he performed so well and gave me everything he could on the day. I was also happy with the way I rode the test, so smiles all round going in to the jumping phases.
Right: Louie hacking back to the stables after his dressage test
After Louie’s test, I walked the cross-country course again. It’s nice to see the course a few times, as it cements your ideas of how to ride certain lines etc, and the fences don’t look quite so imposing the second or third time round! The course looks great, nothing out there seems nasty, but there are plenty of places to make mistakes. Like any Badminton track, it would be silly to underestimate it.
After lunch I hopped on Louie again to pop him over some fences. It seems an age ago that we were at home jumping him, so it’s nice to have a wake up and a play over a few fences here. I think Louie was mostly relieved to not have his dressage saddle back on, and popped round quite happily.
I finished riding in time to see the last group of riders complete their dressage tests (this was most definitely planned…) It was great watching William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson keep their cool throughout to make this still a superbly close finale to the best Grand Slam we’ve seen! The dressage scores are all close, so I think the cross-country is going to shake everything up. Here’s hoping Fat Louie and I can move up the leader board a bit.