Blog 3: What a weekend...
On Saturday was the day I had been counting down for since I had qualified for it at the Merrist Wood 1 competition in January. The British Eventing JAS Final! I had Lily and Punch in the BE100, Lily in the Novice and Coco in the Open, so a busy day ahead!
We set off at the rather civilised time of 9.30, on time and without drama! We got to Bury Farm with enough time to have a look round before walking the course, as we hadn't been there before. The arena was nice, but not as big as I was expecting and the jumps were very tightly packed, which made it quite spooky. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th fences were on a dog leg across the middle of the arena which I thought would be quite tricky, especially on Punch as the striding was 4 strides and then 3 strides so not much room to fit an extra one in.
Punch was first to go and he warmed up well, I went in feeling positive but also aware of the fact that he is a cheeky Connemara pony at heart and could take a dislike to any one of the 16 numbered fences! I attacked the course and he responded, jumping a really lovely double clear and finishing inside the time which didn't happen that often as the time was really tight. We waited for his style score to be read out, and were slightly disappointed with the mark of 18 that he got as he couldn't have gone any better, but he tried his best so I couldn't ask any more of him.
Lily was next to go in the BE100 and she was feeling very pleased with herself in the warm up, bouncing around all over the place. Eventually it was her turn and she trotted in to the arena with her ears tightly pricked ready to go. All I can say about her round is that she really was awesome. She has got such a quick brain and tries her very best - especially now that we have such a good partnership and she really trusts me. She skipped round really for another double clear and inside the time. A round totally different to Punch's so I was hopeful she may get given the marks. We waited nervously for her score to come out, and when it did we were ecstatic! She had got a penalty score of 6! Which is 54/60 and went into the lead by miles with a few horses left to jump. While we waited nervously for the class to finish I was asked by Jenny Rudall if I would give my Top Tips for JAS for Horse & Country TV which I willingly did - the JAS Final episode is on the 4th of March at 8.30 - so keep an eye out! Eventually the last horse had jumped and the scores came through. Lily had won the class, and it wasn't even close! The next best score was 13 - 7 marks behind. It turns out we were the first combination to recieve a 6 all day (we got 4 in total)! Punch wasn't to be outdone and finished a very credible 8th in a class of 45! As you can see from the picture above Lily and I won a lovely rug (which is now on my bed until we next compete!) A sash, a gorgeous rosette and some very generous training vouchers. A huge thank you to all the sponsors that help towards giving the classes such great prizes - it really is appreciated! After a quick Lap of Honour and an interview for Horse & Country TV for our win - we were back in the warm up to prepare for the Novice track. It had gone up quite a bit, but Lily was on form.
She was just as fab in the Novice but unfortunately our joint enthusiasm going into the double of arrowheads on a short two strides led to her having the out down and we had 1 time fault. We still earned a style mark of 9 - being awarded another 6 in the process and it was good enough to put us into the lead at that point. However we thought nothing more about it and swapped her for Coco who needed a decent amount of warming up after being on the lorry so long. As the class started to come towards the end, Lily was still in the top 3 - who had to be mounted! So we went and got her tacked up again in the hope we may get placed again! We did - she finished 3rd! What a superstar pony. Without the time fault we would have been 2nd and without the fence we would have won - but that would have been greedy and if someone told me last week I would have won one class and finished 3rd in the other I wouldn't have believed them!
Soon it was Cocos turn and I was asked if I could wear a hatcam! Of course it was always going to be a curse to something going wrong but was a risk I was willing to take! He warmed up beautifully and went in and jumped the best he has ever jumped - miles above every fence and no tapping at all - we have come such a long way as a partnership this winter and I can't wait to go eventing! Unfortunately we had rather thrown him in at the deep end, having only done one JAS ever before which was in January - the twisty turny cross country section confused him a bit. Resulting in two run outs. The first of which was slightly caused to having a flyer into the double of arrowheads and my reactions not being quick enough to turn him to tell him to jump the next fence - Doh! The second one was at the corner - but it was very acute and aiming straight at the wall and I just think at the last minute he saw the wall and went 'I can't do that' but once I told him he could he came round the 2nd time and jumped it beautifully so it was a shame really. However I am not too disappointed as he jumped fab and we are still getting to know each other really.
I couldn't have wished for a better day. A huge thank you to BE for organising another great series. Baileys and all the other Sponsors who allowed the prizes to be so generous and mum - who kept the horses exercised and in one piece whilst I was working in London last week. And when I got home on Friday had ridden two of them, got them all ready and cleaned their tack! So thank you Mum!!