We headed off to Belton with four horses, hoping that the weather Gods would be kind! When we arrived we were towed into the lorry park and our hopes started to fade. However, the ground for the show jumping and cross country was amazing, and with sun forecast, it would only get better. Bobby went amazingly, jumping his socks off and making the cross country feel like a BE90 to finish second in the Novice. He makes it so easy and is gaining a big fan club with his colour and jump! Bond did a lovey test and jumped well, though made a mistake going into the combination and unfortunately rolled two parts of it which was just a bit rusty. He was flying cross country, but was unlucky to be held on track before the hollow fence, which had caused a lot of problems due to there being a pool of water in the middle which wasn’t meant to be there! As he had cooled down and switched off a bit while a fence was repaired he wasn’t quite going again and was taken by surprise when he was restarted. He popped it second time and flew around the rest of the course but it was a just a shame he was held as I don’t think he would have had a problem otherwise. The next morning Biscuit was second to go in the three star Dressage. He did a lovely test and I was hoping for a mark similar to the 24 he got at Burnham, and was very surprised to see he was given a 34! Not a terrible mark, but for Biscuit and the test he does it was very disappointing and I am at a loss as to why. He was even given a 4 for a half pass which looked and felt to me like an 8. How and ever, we were here for a run and to kick his season off, so onwards and upwards. It was just a shame we weren’t in a more competitive position at the start. He certainly made up for it with an amazing double clear around a tough track in one of the fastest times of the day to finish 12th/100 in the Grantham Cup - a very respectable place. He was foot perfect and it was one of the nicest rounds I’ve ever had on him. He will go to Withington Advanced next, followed by Tattersalls CCI***. Rory also did a lovey test in the Advanced and was given a 34, not bad and a bit of room for improvement. He was a bit keen in his show jumping and had two rails down. It was disappointing as we had just been placed 3rd in a huge 1.30/40 track at Cherwell the week before and this was small in comparison! But it sometimes takes a couple of rounds on grass at this time of year to find their feet. He was giving me as good a ride if not better than Biscuit, when all of a sudden we were both underwater! I a totally lacking an explanation, but he left a leg at the second of a bounce of logs into water. It was very unlike him as he is one of the neatest horses I have ever ridden and he never touches a fence in front. He was really balanced and popped the first log steady and neatly, and then just didn’t get in the air! The only thing I can think is that he got stuck in the mud where they had put a lot of stone down, and maybe it had got a bit gluey. In any case, he is absolutely fine, as am I, and we live to fight another day. They say bad luck comes in threes and after Bond falling on the flat in Portugal, Celus over reaching and falling on the flat at Great Witchingham and now Rory making a mistake at Belton, I am hoping my luck is due a change! After seeing that he was fine, the next thought was what do we do about Badminton?! It certainly was not the ideal prep! However, it was just bad luck and he had felt amazing up until then, so on we go to plan F! Although it is not ideal to run the weekend before Badminton, Rory was already entered for Withington in case other events were cancelled. It is an excellent track there, designed by Eric Winter, who designs Badminton and it would be a brilliant fitness run before going. Rory is already very fit and wouldn’t need to do lots of other prep, so I am confident that it is the right thing to do with him. I don’t want to go without match practise and although we run the risk of injury the weekend before, I think it is the right thing for both him and I. I am really pleased that he feels none the worse after his little tumble. Annabelle Galt has been to give him some physio, and our chiropractor Iain Pringuer has also been to check him over. Both were delighted with how good he looked, and echoed the sentiment of what a tough gutsy little horse he is! It has often been said that a good prep means a bad Badminton, while a bad prep means a good one! While we haven’t had a terrible prep and Rory does feel in good form, I feel like we have had our fair share of bad luck and are due a change of fortune soon enough! Let’s hope it changes in the next fortnight!

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