By now I was getting quite stressed that Acco had only qualified for one international arena class after so many close calls, but got even more stressed when I walked the Newcomers course - it literally played to all of Acco's strengths...here was my chance!
The jump off had the option of a tight turn to a one stride double on an angle, then cut inside a fence to a big oxer that was hidden by a tree until the last two strides, also on the angle, then a flat out gallop across the arena to a very flimsy upright, a ridiculous turn back to a water tray oxer, on an angle, with one straight stride if you chose to cut inside the tree, and gallop to the Hickstead planks and an upright.
It was the last qualifier and pretty up to height, and for the first time this week, I was actually really nervous. Mum, Dad, Hannah and her mum had come down to watch, but Acco didn't disappoint, storming into a very clear lead with a ridiculously careful and fast jump off! However, only 7 had jumped and we'd been in this position before....
Tiny and Leo were jumping steady rounds in this class just to round off their week on an easy note and both jumped very nice rounds. They have learnt loads from this experience and will be amazing next year.
A quick breather and before we knew it, Acco was jumping in the main arena!
In a 34 strong class, 19 qualified for the jump off; one of which was Acco, pulling off an easy clear. 1m would be his most difficult height as it's not really big enough to make him 'jump', so he can be a little careless and I was relieved to get that out the way. In the jump off, I had to make a decision whether to get the clear or whether to go for it.
I decided it was Hickstead, and out of 413 who attempted to qualify, I had got too far to just go for a steady clear. We really went for it, and unfortunately he did start some toe-dangling and had 2 down. But I don't regret giving it a go; he wouldn't have been in the money with a steady clear anyway so really pleased.
The winner was incredibly fast and incredibly careful and in fairness did a turn that I hadn't quite made, so fair play and it wasn't meant to be our class.
When Tiny and Leo had finished jumping, Acco was still in the lead so I was very excited about the prospect of winning a Hickstead rug! Very tentatively we walked into the show office and were gutted to be told we'd been pushed into 2nd!!
2nd is still a fantastic result out of 174 starters, but I hate being so convinced of a win and then pipped to the post. We had a lovely lunch with mum and dad watching the 1.35m Challenge; I could quite happily convert to show jumping! Probably would miss the cross country though...
Still, at least we've still got one more class to go in the international arena because 2nd place qualified us for the Newcomers Championship!