Glorious Gatcombe: The Festival Of British Eventing 2018
The Festival of Eventing did not disappoint this year and was a stark contrast to last year.
Last year we had thunderstorms and torrential rain, as well as a naughty run out from someone. So I was really hoping this year was going to be special. Well that same pony only went and got himself 2nd place in the intermediate championship!!!
The Festival Of British Eventing: Media Luxury
We were treated to a leisurely start and even stopped for breakfast on the way. Quite a treat for us and very welcome after the frantic and stressful week we’d had. Our timing was impeccable and we cruised in. Parking nice and close. It was great to not be sliding into the parking space a la last year.First job was to find the media tent. Perfectly located between the collecting ring and the main arena it was one of the changes from last year. A very welcome change, it was so nice to feel like they’d actually thought about where to locate us and we were in the hub of the action.
Plenty of charging points and refreshments made for a very nice welcome indeed. Add in the bonus of loos and even Mr Frog and Field was happy. Shannondale Percy, owned by Sarah Hughes, was the first of the team Bragg horses to jump. This horse has come on leaps and bounds with Alex and the two of them are actually quite similar-lol
There weren’t many clears and the jumps were up to height. Gatcombe is very undulating and can be tricky to jump in. Percy just said watch and learn! Pinging over every jump like they were far too small he did a foot perfect round. The smiles said it all and we raided the sweetie pot for him. He is so loved and the Bragg’s really do put the horses first. He strutted back to the lorry with his cocky swagger, he is such a dude. He’d be the popular good looking kid at school, that didn’t listen but when the teacher asked a question he’d know the answer!
The Festival Of British Eventing: Hilly and Tough
A short break for lunch and it was back to it. Cross country time, I remembered the course from last year and elected to take it easy up at the start. From listening to Alex and the commentary it was clear the course was just as tough as last year. Twisty, winding and very hilly. Typically Percy swaggered around the warm up. Ears pricked and keen to get going. He flew out of the start box and locked on. Flying over the first he set of at a good pace. Him and Alex are a team now, they both trust each other and Percy just wants to please him. So much progress in just 6 months
As I walked to the finish I could here him clearing fence after fence. Then he was there. Ears pricked and focussed on the last. Trying and giving every last bit of energy to Alex. He looked tired but he wasn’t going to slow down. They came home just 6 seconds over the time. The fastest cross country time! This piece of genius meant they finished in second place. A spectacular achievement and one that everyone will treasure forever. These two have formed a formidable bond and I truly believe they are ones to watch.
As always Percy recovered quickly and was demanding attention within minutes. Just love him.
The Festival Of British Eventing: Dancing Shoes
Final part of the day was Barrichello’s dressage. A big horse who still needs a bit of time he went round very sweetly and produced a lovely test that left him in a competitive position for the Sunday. The following day gave us another leisurely start- I better not get used to this! So we had time to wander around and really enjoy the festival. It’s a great day out, lots of stalls and heaps to see. We even treated ourselves to some ice-cream rolls- if you’ve not had some you’re missing out! Frozen ice-cream with chopped up Kinder Bueno…OMG They were DELISH!
Showjumping time came around. The jumps were huge, I don’t know why I’m surprised. The boys are at a high level now so it’s not going to be a cross pole is it. Like the previous day the undulating arena and the clever track meant clears were sparse. Sadly this was the case for Barry, he had two rails down which was so annoying given how well he’d warmed up. Still he’s young and we all know he needs a bit of time to really strengthen up. He’s progressing now and also finding the atmosphere less overwhelming so it’s all good. Sometimes he can back off when he is a bit overwhelmed but he’s improving every time out.
Just having the one horse meant we were able to enjoy a lunch break. Barry quite liked the peace and quiet of leaving his brother at home and was quite happy. The heatwave hadn’t let up and in the blazing sun we headed down to the start. I decided to venture further afield, keen to get some water shots. It’s always so hard to pick where to go, but the downside of Gatcombe is the logistics. The stables and horse boxes are a fair old schlep away and it’s a mission to try and get the action. So decision made I headed for ‘The Bowl’. Aware that I could do my normal step count of 20,000 I had to pick a spot and stick to it.
The Festival Of British Eventing: Like a Boss
On route I picked up Tara and Lou and we sat and waited. Time went by so slowly! Eventually we heard that Alex was on his way…. eeeekkkkk. He neatly navigated some tricky skinnies and flew down the hill. Flying over the Trakkener and speeeding up the hill, he looked super fast. Watching him gallop past the house he looked every inch the cross-country machine he is.
For a big horse he is nimble and pops over all the tricky questions. Bravely leaping into the water and galloping away. He finished just 13 seconds over the time and finished in the top ten. He also got a prize for the highest placed young horse, bless him!
Also recovering quickly, thanks also to his Flair Strip, he was happily having a roll in the lorry park when we finally said our goodbyes and headed back down the motorway to finish moving- more about that next week.
A fab weekend at The Festival Of British Eventing, a bit different to my normal and I did get irritated at times because I couldn’t do my ‘normal’ mad running around but I’m just pleased the boys all did so well. Sarah your boys are special and I’ve got a smile on my face as I write this 🙂