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Roller Coasters and Superstars

It’s a fascinating ride the journey of Eventing…………….This time last year I was completely heartbroken at Burghley when the wonderful Coopers Law injured badly on the XC, whilst we were enjoying a foot perfect ride on the hallowed turf……

A year on, I am on cloud 9 after WINNING the CCI4*- L at Blair Castle with Maria Doels beautiful horse ‘Gortfadda Diamond’ (Bertie). It’s been a roller coaster ride over the past year, and it just made winning Blair even more special, and so rewarding for all the people who have supported me.

Blair Castle is always one of my favourite events, but with the clash of Millstreet in Ireland entries were a little low. My class only had 14 entries. None the less we still had a job to do! It was Bertie’s first attempt at the long format 4*, but he has gained some valuable experience at Chatsworth, Bramham and Burgham short format events during this season and I hoped Blair would suit him, so we went feeling confident for the task ahead.

His dressage wasn’t our best, a very loud crackle from the speaker as we passed it during the first half of our test unsettled us both, but we regained composure and executed the movements. His flying changes have improved so much recently at home but we couldn’t quite get them perfectly in our test this time. Never the less he scored a creditable 31, which put us in to the lead going forward to the XC.

Bertie putting his best foot forward to lead the dressage on 31.

The course was hilly, and presented plenty of questions. It was one of those courses that I knew I had to keep an open mind and ride the horse that I was feeling underneath me, as on tired legs distances between fences can be very different! Fortunately, Bertie galloped well all the way, and didn’t ever really feel tired. 3.2 time faults was by far the quickest of the day, retaining our lead, and increasing it by 13 penalties.

Bertie has always been quite keen XC, and I’ve really focused on his XC training during this year, especially with the technical lines and rideability. Caroline Moore and the facilities at Valeview have been a tremendous help, and have really helped me train Bertie.

Jumping in to the influential Water at fence. 11

His face says it all!

He looked good on Saturday night, and trotted up well on the Sunday morning. It was a long wait until we jumped at 4pm! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a leading margin going in to the show jumping! My nerves were jingling well, but I decided ‘what will be will be’, and if it was to be our day the win was well within our grasp. He jumped a brilliant clear round for me, and I knew jumping the last fence the win was ours. Maria and I were quite emotional, and very proud of Bertie who enjoyed his prize giving and lap of honour! It was certainly a week I will treasure. I’m so pleased for Maria, who has believed in Bertie since she first saw him as a 4yr old, and I have to say thank you for enabling me to build such a great partnership with him.

A clear round! Thanks Nico Morgan for the great photo!

Enjoying our lap of. honour!

His owner Maria Doel, and niece Evie, with sponsor Land Rover.

Feeling proud

I’m glad Paul and Mum were there to celebrate too. Paul loves coming to Blair so took the week off work to do so. He did a great support job all week doing the majority of the driving, cooking, and taking fabulous photo’s and video to remember the week by.

Huge thanks to Ellie, who's support is vital to me at every event, and I have to say Bertie looked a million dollars all week. Big thank you Lizzie and Dad who held the fought at home.

Im grateful to Gill Watson who has helped me for the last few years took the time to come up to Blair as well and support us. It's always so useful to have a good pair of eyes on the ground! Gill also enjoyed another one of her pupils winning the CCI3*-L as well! A good week all round!

Credit to Ellie, he looked fantastic

From one equine star to another, the lovely Coopers Law (Spider) went home to Derbyshire today, to enjoy a winter break. I’m pleased to say he’s very sound and happy, although he does have a rather relaxed waistline these days! Thanks must go to my home team for his excellent re-hab, and who knows what the future holds…….for now though he will enjoy some time with his ever supportive owners Nicky Dickson and Sally Williams.

I do just want to say a massive Thank you to Spider who achieved so much for me on so many occasions including four 5* competitions, 2 Team GB Nations Cup appearances, longlisted place for WEG 2018 and the Olympics 2016. He ammassed 754 BE points, and never had a XC fault apart from when I fell off him (which was only twice through his whole 10 year career.) What a legend!

The legend!

My next competition is with 2 young mares, who are just at the beginning of their Eventing journey….lets hope they follow in Spider and Bertie’s foot steps! This Friday they will go to Burghley for the BYEH Final. A prestigious class designed to spot stars of the future. I’m very fond of both horses ‘Jalba O’ owned by myself and supported by Heather Sanders and ‘Loughton Diamond’ owned and bred by John and Suki Troy, so I am looking forward to seeing how they cope in such a big atmosphere. It will be great experience for them.

I’m excited to be supporting Richard Skelt who is competing in the 5* competition for the first time. I’ve helped coach Richard for a few years, and he has built a great partnership with Credo. I wish him all the very best of luck!

Sadly one of my other amazing clients Trisha Pytches has had to withdraw from the 5* due to a minor set back, but I hope they will be fighting fit for another 5* next year!

During Blair I was glued to the European Showjumping Championships, as I had everything crossed for them that they would qualify the team for Tokyo….and they did! Well done Di Lampard! The team also won Bronze.

I had a special interest in Holly Smith as I’ve been helping Holly and her horses on the flat these last few months, and when Holly was off with a broken collarbone I helped keep the lovely Hearts Destiny working. The pair of them were fantastic all week, and finished 10th individually as well as the team bronze.

I’m enjoying coaching these amazing riders, and being part of their journey to achieve their goals. I think its really good to be involved in the sport as a rider and a coach, It gives me new ideas and thought processes, so I never stop learning!

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