After the intensive preparation for these under-25 championships, driving a mere three and-a-half hours just didn’t seem appropriate. Used to the standard 7hr trek from our Scottish base, Rocket (who is Burgie-bound), and “Rooey” (Little Beau), who I’m riding in the three-star here, were certainly pretty shocked to be unloaded so quickly.
I was extremely lucky, and relieved that my trainer Ian Stark was on hand to help keep me on the straight and narrow on Thursday morning, as it was pretty daunting trying to school among all the exceptionally smart-looking pros.
The trot-up on Thursday afternoon was a jolly affair, although marred by the rejection of Guy Herbert’s horse, Fortunes Way, who was bizarrely sound as a bell until he reached the run-way. As he was parked next to us, the empty space is a sad reminder of the good luck that is so essential for success in our sport.
Having worked Rooey with Ian again early this morning with less success than the previous sessions, I was starting to feel distinctly nervous. But as rumours trickled back about action from last night’s drinks party — including Ian being spotted clutching a selection of rapidly emptying champagne bottles — I was glad I hadn’t returned after supper for the final drinks, and my mind was relatively clear.
It was also a massive treat to have Rooey presented to me looking absolutely magnificent. I’ve never had a groom at a three-day before, and it enabled me to watch a couple of tests, which was really beneficial.
Once again Ian was a massive help warming me up, and I felt a lot calmer just knowing that he was there to correct me the second it wasn’t perfect.
The instant we went into the arena Rooey perked up, but he remained so calm and tried his heart out to be awarded a breathtaking 65% from one judge. Our overall score was 55.2, which I was beyond thrilled with, reminiscing on our 80-plus score at Hartpury CCI** three years ago.
Log back on later for H&H eventing editor Pippa Roome’s report of the second day of dressage and come back tomorrow to read about Charlotte’s cross-country day.