Mary King’s Olympic Games countdown diary: 17 days to go

  • So here we are at our quarantine base at the Unicorn Centre, near Stow-on-the-Wold in Glos. Call Again Cavalier (Cavvy) and Imperial Cavalier (Archie) have both settled into their new stables which are going to be home until we leave for the Games on 30 July.

    Getting ready for quarantine has been a major task. My lorry is one of those being used to take the horses to the airport so it had to be scrubbed and disinfected inside and out to comply with the strict quarantine rules.

    My head girl Bernie Shonk has been in charge of getting everything packed and ready for the Olympics. She has been fantastic. There is no going back home to pick something up once you are in quarantine so you have to make sure you take everything with you.

    It’s quite a drive for us to the Unicorn Centre so I will be staying up here most of the time. We are in a hotel not far from the centre and every time we enter the quarantine area we have to change. There is only one entrance/exit and we have to take off our outside clothes and put on our quarantine clothes in a special room before we can go through to the stables.

    Our preparations last week were briefly interrupted when the door bell rang at 5am and there was a lady from UK Sport requesting a routine dope test. So I had to spend a penny for her and that was that. It’s just one of those things you have to do.

    We spent Friday and Saturday at Aston-le-Walls with four horses. Cavvy and Archie both did the Olympic advanced section, which was our last chance to ride the test at a competition before the Games.

    Cavvy was a bit distracted by the novice cross-country, which he could see in the distance, and scored 30.7. When we halted on the centre line at the start of the test, his head went up like a periscope! But he jumped a lovely clear show jumping and we will keep fine tuning the dressage over the next couple of weeks.

    Archie produced a very good dressage test to score 28.3, which I was very pleased with. Then he jumped clear show jumping and I ran him fairly fast across country to finish fifth. He is coming on really well.

    Apache Sauce picked up his first advanced win for his owner Gill Jonas. He is a really consistent horse, always in the placings, but it’s lovely for Gill to have a win at last. And my home-bred mare, Kings Temptress, went beautifully across country to finish fourth for her owner Derek Baden. I was chuffed to bits with her as she is only eight and she was so smooth and easy. She will be going to Blenheim and Apache Sauce will be off to Burghley when I get back from Hong Kong.

    But for now it’s time for me to focus on the boys. Now we are in quarantine I don’t really have that much to do — there is no cooking, cleaning or children and with just the two horses to ride, it’s nice to have a bit of a break!


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