Well 2018 has been a roller coaster of a year for me, with my highlight being Badminton CCI**** back in May. Coopers Law (Spider) owned by Nicky Dickson and Sally Williams was sensational, and finished 20th.
For the first time in many years Spider performed the dressage test of his life, and stayed with me and relaxed, to give us a competitive start going in to the XC. It was extremely tiring ground conditions on XC day, but Spider gave it his all and I enjoyed an exhilarating clear XC round.
Some of those fences were simply enormous!
Excelling himself in the dressage and the XC then just took its toll on the final day and a few rolled poles was out of character and a little bit disappointing, but I was delighted to finish in 20th place at his first Badminton.
I was excited to hear I had been long listed for WEG after Badminton, and although I knew we weren't near enough the top of the list to realistically think we might go, it was an honour to be selected.
Our autumn aim was Burghley CCI****. Spider again did an amazing dressage test, putting us in 13th place going in to the XC. 13 was my unlucky number as sadly he sustained a galloping injury after fence 13 and I retired him. He was just awesome until then, so it was a very sad end to Burghley. Im pleased to report though that Spider is making a good recovery here with me, although a little grumpy!
'Gortfadda Diamond' (Bertie) owned by Maria Doel stepped up to Advanced this year, and jumped a double clear in his first one in June, and finished in 6th in the CCI** at Blair Castle in August. I'm really excited about his future, and can't wait for 2019 and beyond with him. With such a wet spring and dry summer a lot of events were either cancelled or the ground was unfit, so Bertie didn't get quite as many events in as we had hoped, but what he did he did very well, and I think it has given him time to mature.
I gained a new ride in 'Jemilla' (Flicka) in May. Owned by Richard and Shelagh Morley and previously ridden by Mark Kyle, Flicka is a great addition to my team. It's taken me a while to get to know her, but I felt our partnership began to cement at Blair Castle, finishing 4th in the CCI**, and then we enjoyed a good spin in the Advanced at Allerton Park finishing 9th.
Justine Collins's 'Winning Belle' (Belle) who I have produced from a green 5yr old, really grew up this year and won Chatsworth CIC*, and Lincoln and Burgham Novice. She then went on to finish 14th in the CIC** 7yo Championships at Osberton.
The younger horses suffered a lack of runs due to the weather playing havoc with our plans, but what they did they did well, and I can't ask more than that.
With my trainers hat on, I recently attended Pau CCI**** to support Trisha Pytches contest the CCI**** with Ballycar Chip. What an incredible partnership, and I was very proud to have helped and supported them over the last couple of years. To achieve a double clear around their first 4* together was incredible.
I hope to keep you updated with some winter training, and will look forward to the start of the event season 2019. I'm just praying we don't get such a long cold winter as the last one!