Back up at 6am to get the horses done and hand grazed as the two babies' jumping was all done with. I walked the course, then picked Dad up from his B&B and we drove to Gatwick together to get the motorhome sorted. Immy got the lorry all ready to go home :(
Luckily that all ran very smoothly, and we arrived back in time to watch the first few go. I didn't see any clears, or 4's, 8's or even 12 faults. After a good handful or horses, the best score was 16 faults! I didn't know whether that was good or bad but I was quietly confident that Acco's jumping would see him through, with an up to height track playing to our advantage.
With 4 of us to go, I'm pretty sure there were only 4 clears, out of what was now 30 horses jumped. Acco went in and jumped an immaculate clear, with not even the slight noise of a tapped pole. He was brilliant!
In the next 3 horses, 2 jumped clear, meaning out of 477 original entries across 3 qualifiers, and 34 horses in the Championship, the worst Acco and I could come would be 7th!
We set out like we meant business; the last class of a fab week, we couldn't just 'enjoy it'! I saw a hopeless long one to the first and he just jumped higher, and from then on in he was absolutely flying. We came across to what was now a big oxer on the angle off a tight turn behind a tree and up a hill(!), and he just flew it, and set us up nicely for the angle to the planks. Unfortunately I didn't quite balance him enough, the previous turn had worked out better than I'd planned and we'd got to the planks sooner that I'd estimated, and although he tried hard it came down. I still kicked on but didn't do a tight turn in to the double at the end, as he couldn't win now, but he still posted a faster time than the winner!
Absolutely gutted, but we both tried our best and will be back for the win next year! For a horse I don't ride very often and had only jumped him twice since February before coming to Hickstead, I was so pleased with how he performed. Thank you so so much to Anna and Zoe for agreeing to let me steal him again!
Thank you also to everyone who helped make this week work - Russ who trained us all the way up to it, Immy the most amazing groom (and cameraman!), Anita for driving the lorry down, Diana and Dad for being the motorhome drivers(!), Dave for holding excess ponies on a number of occasions by the arenas, all the staff at Wadswick for getting all our orders for rugs, boots, numnahs, smart headcollars etc done in record time, Malcolm Green from Equifeast for getting the horse's supplements right so they were fully focussed and ready to go, Valeria for lending me her numnah after my nice one got caked in mud :( And if I've forgotten anyone I'm really sorry!!