What a week it’s been! Since last Saturday — when I rode my horses, did the house work, and spent a couple of hours grafting on my now famous garden — it has been non-stop.
On Sunday team vet John McEwan came by on his way back from Aachen, Germany. All the Olympic horses are having two injections against a strain of Japanese flu between two and four weeks before they fly. John agreed that Lucky Star’s diet is going well and explained what else needs to happen before we fly, including a Coggins test once the horses are in quarantine. He checked Lucky Star over generally and especially his passport to see that everything is in order.
On Monday I had to hop in the lorry to take a horse of Aram’s [Jane’s husband] to Newmarket. He’d had suspensory problems and spent nine months off and nine months walking so I wanted specialist Sue Dyson to give him the all clear. Driving back on the M25 we went through some awful thunderstorms. Three accidents happened right in front of us. It’s unnerving how crazily people drive here in those conditions. In Germany everybody slows right down, but here they carry on regardless. It’s dicing with death and when you’ve got a horse on board it can be very frightening.
After that ordeal I was bandaging a horse at home when a lady from UK Sport popped her head over the stabledoor and said: “Hi Jane, I’m here to dope test you.” It’s not a nice procedure but something every athlete now has to be prepared to do. We’re all made very aware of what medications are permitted; I’m suffering any headaches with a glass of water now! It’s the same with the horses. The girls are being extra vigilant as even things like citronella in flyspray and Sudocreme aren’t acceptable.
On Tuesday I went to a clothes fitting with my friend and groom for the games Rachel to pick up our Team GB kit from the NEC Birmingham. Rachel worked for me for six years, including at Atlanta 1996, and is coming as my groom to Hong Kong. She’s the most calming, stable influence. If she says the horse is OK, I trust her — she’s invaluable.
We had personal dressers at the NEC and it was a very professional operation. We came away with a lot of very smart clothes, a new set of luggage, and they even gave us a Panasonic video camcorder, which really is special and I’ll be videoing everything in Hong Kong.
Wednesday I caught up on some teaching including with my pupil Alex Hu Tian, who is representing Hong Kong in the Olympic eventing competition. I took him to task as I hadn’t seen him for a few weeks. He was in a sweat by the time we finished, but I’m determined he’ll look very competent riding down that centre line. He’s a great, confident rider and I hope to be able to help him when we’re out there, too.
I’ve never had any problems with my teeth but we all had compulsory dental checks this week, which I passed. Of course the next day my tooth cracked! So on Thursday I took myself back to the dentist to have that fixed, and in the afternoon Lucky Star had his teeth done too.
I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to get back into normal routine now. Let’s hope next week is a bit less frantic.