Tina Cook’s Express Eventing diary: the final countdown

  • The Express Eventing competition on Sunday is rushing up very quickly now. I’m starting to think about the finer details of the arrangements and it’s going to be a busy weekend.

    As the journey takes about 4hr 30min, I’m travelling to Wales on Saturday and I’ll be stabling overnight at Chepstow Racecourse, as are some of the other riders with longer journeys and the foreigners.

    Because the Millennium Stadium isn’t designed for horses or horseboxes, there’s a finely tuned schedule for Sunday with allocated time slots for arrivals. I think mine is 7.15am.

    I’ve decided to ride Miners Frolic [“Henry”]. Both he and my other horse, First Flight II [“Brendon”], are really well and in the jumping phases there’s nothing to pick between them. So it came down to the fact Miners Frolic is likely to do the better dressage test.

    Last-minute tweaks

    I had to change my dressage to music test slightly at the end of last week as I realised I’d forgotten the two shoulder-ins, but that’s all sorted out now. I went to my music guru Dane Rawlins’ yard again last Friday, and my mum came to watch.

    Everyone’s been very secretive about their music, but I’ve tried to pick something that no one else will use. It’s a bit of a risk, but I’ve gone down modern dance lines — it’s fun, and although I’m taking the competition seriously, you’ve got to enjoy the music you are riding to as well. I’m not sure that it’s to my mum’s taste — she was pulling a face as I trotted round, but I think she came round to the idea.

    A couple of times this week I’ve put the car by the school and played the music loudly while I practise. All the lads were dancing round the racing yard and the villagers probably think I’ve gone mad and am organising raves! Although he’s not a hot-head, Henry finds it quite exciting performing to music, even in his own school at home.

    A thrilling prospect

    I took Henry cross-country schooling at Coombelands on Wednesday — it’s closed at the moment but Gaye Harwood kindly let me go round. I only popped little fences, but he hasn’t been cross-country since the Olympics, so I wanted to refresh both of our memories.

    I’m having a final session with Dane to fine-tune my music today, then on Saturday we’ll be on the road.

    I’m excited, but slightly apprehensive about the whole event now. We riders will all have to deal with the temporary facilities and tight schedule, including aspects such as not having much time to look at the course, which isn’t normally the case at big events, when you have several days.

    I don’t know quite what to expect, but it’s a thrilling prospect to have the chance to win such a huge amount of money — it might go some way to building us a house.

    See you in Cardiff. I hope you enjoy watching us all charging around frightening ourselves!


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