Not the weekend I was hoping for…
Cross country morning started cool and overcast, what looked like perfect conditions until the sun broke through in the early afternoon and it became very humid. Luckily PJ went in the cooler conditions. Having hacked them both in the morning just to settle them and give them a leg stretch, I set out on my final course walk. I walked the lines I intended to ride, finalised the markers I was aiming for and checked the options incase I needed them.
PJ warmed up brilliantly and felt to be on his ‘A’ game. I jumped a few show jumps before warming up over the cross country fences. Then at 11:54 we left the start box…. Quickly into our rhythm and before I knew it we were over the first 3 fences. He was literally jumping like a stag.
I was really happy with the way PJ listened to me at the Quarry, those walls are upright and I didn’t want to leave any legs there! Off to Huntsmans Close where I went the direct route; 3 good strides between both corners and headed towards the house. We jumped the rail at the Wadsworth Lower Lake and headed towards the imposing white oxers at the Jack Wills garden, again PJ felt great.
I left that third of the course with positive vibes that PJ was on form. Sadly at the Swindon Designer Outlet Mound PJ left his off fore knee slightly behind over the first element which gave us an uncomfortable jump but up the slope we regained our balance and he popped over the rail at the top and then turning to the final element things started to go wrong and we met the final part on a half stride…. Resulting in PJ skipping past it. Seriously annoying but also understandable…
So regathering my thoughts I headed to the Vicarage area and the Mirage Pond. PJ was great down there, I even jumped the direct route at Vicarage Vee, he gave me an incredible feeing over it. Delighted to at least have that under my belt.
Sadly another misunderstanding at the Shogun Hollow and I had to go back and take the long route… After that I took the pressure off PJ and wanted to give him an educational round so he will remember the experience more favourably. Well, fingers crossed he will! He finished well within himself and looked good on Saturday night despite having lost a front shoe.
On Sunday PJ came out more fatigued than I expected. He jumped well within himself but sadly rolling two poles along the way. However, he and I have completed our first four star…. He has earnt himself a holiday.
Time to refocus for Raph later on Saturday afternoon. I watched the close circuit television in the Stables canteen to see how the course was riding. Determined to put in a good performance after my earlier disappointment I set out more cautiously on Raph to ensure we made it to the end of the course with plenty of petrol in the tank. Sadly a run out at the Gatehouse New Pond parallel and then a fall in the Vicarage Vee ditch where Raph and I had a serious misunderstanding, with me landing on my feet, our competition ended.
The long walk home amongst the crowds didn’t help to dispel my mood. What had I done? Why hadn’t I taken the option? A lot to learn but the most important thing is the Raph is in one piece ready for another day.
So Badminton 2016 was not my week, but I’ve taken away lots and am already assessing my performances to ensure I don’t make those mistakes again.
A massive shout out to everyone who has helped, messaged and supported me during the week. I certainly couldn’t have done it without you.