Simon Grieve’s Badminton blog: we are a pair of pocket rockets

  • Last night, my lorry was rocking and not because we were having a good time — the wind was really strong and in the early hours the rain started coming down with vehemence.

    However, by around 11am, the rain had subsided and the sun started to come through which was great to see.

    I worked Splash before the riders briefing — he was lovely, if a little excited by the grassroots cross country that was going on in the park today — where Hugh Thomas introduced us to the ground jury, course designer and his officials.

    Here we find out about the optimum time, distance of the course and any specific does or don’ts of the competition. They have done an amazing job of making this event happen at all with the challenging weather conditions, so hats off to them.

    I had my first look around the course today. It’s big. There are a lot of tough questions out there, but I feel that they are jumpable if Splash is on his game and I ride how I know I can and not like a lemon! The first walk is about getting a feel for the track — tomorrow will be a little more in depth, working out exactly where we can and can’t go, before I make my solid plans in the final two walks.

    After walking, it was time for a shower, shave, glad rags on and the trot-up. Splash was looking amazing, thanks to Kathryn and Maggie who are looking after him this week, and was really well behaved. The crowd is pretty vast and you feel like royalty with all the paps out, snapping away at the end of the runway.

    Commentary on the livestream mentioned how Splash is the smallest horse in the field, and (cough, cough) how that’s ok, because I’m pretty short too. We are twee, but we’re a pair of pocket rockets when on song. Great to hear they were having some fun in the commentary box anyway.

    Immediately after the trot up we did the arena familiarisation, which is great for getting the horses used to the spooky space, cameras that will be there and the judges boxes.

    Splash seemed to take it in his stride and I’m looking forward to our test, which will be at 3.48pm on Thursday. I hope his owner, Merna, is able to make it as she is flying in from an American business trip tomorrow morning and will be on a mission to get here in time. Watch this space and I’ll let you know how we get on.


    Read our full Badminton preview in the current issue of Horse & Hound (issue dated 26 April 2018), with course walk insight from Mary King plus full form guide for every horse and rider

    Our bumper 24-page Badminton report will be in our 10 May issue, including opinion from Oliver Townend, Mark Phillips and Peter Storr.

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