I saw the qualifier for today about a week ago and didn't think I'd done enough preparation for it to be fair to push them at speed round an A7 Newcomers track.
I'd also been asked if I could ride out (racehorses) because there was an open morning; which to be honest at the moment; work has to take priority over competing so I'd sort of ignored the idea of going.
Yesterday, I saw that it was pre-entry and drawn order and that there actually was time to do both... I decided to take Leo and aim Tiny for the BN and Disc qualifiers this year (although actually having jumped it I think she would have been fine round that track so a bit annoyed now!)
After 2 hours on the phone, I finally got some transport in the form of begging and pleading Dad who said I was completely mad to take one horse to Hartpury for one class, but that he would drive :D
CAN'T WAIT TO GET MY HGV!!
Anyway, with the drawn order, I had time to do both racing and show jumping with the amazing amazing team of Immy and Dad meaning that all I had to do was get in the lorry from my car and go!
We had been told the coursewalk for the Newcomers would be around 11:30, but I'd hoped we would get there earlier in case it was early, which of course it was!
By the time we got there, we were reasonably on time, so I watched a few go to learn the course while Immy tacked Leo up. There were a lot of clears.... :/ And in the 6 people I watched, 2 got lost or missed a fence, so not great preparation!
Immy then came to find me to say we'd got everything...except a girth! She assured me she could sort it though once we'd quickly established there was no shop, so I ran to get changed and amazingly by the time I was back to the lorry Leo was tacked up complete with girth! Thank god Immy had the sense to go straight to the livery yard rather than other lorries with competitors who obviously needed their girths!
After a fairly brief warm up, off we went! I was so nervous, probably mostly because I was dreading feeling guilty for Dad driving all this way for us to have 4 faults; plus I'm ridiculously competitive and really wanted to qualify!
But nerves are good and he jumped the smoothest clear I've ever had with him, every stride was perfect and the rhythm was lovely. I was shaking like a leaf when I came out but very buzzed up for the jump off! Phase one complete.
When I looked at the jump off course I will thrilled that it would suit him; more turny than gallopy; for such a big young horse Leo is ridiculously balanced and turning very tight comes so naturally to him. But, there were 22 clears from around 40 starters so I knew we would not be able to hang about.
He zoomed round, again, very careful, and the only time I lost was just giving him two strides extra room to a water tray oxer on what would have been a fairly hefty angle had I come any tighter. I was also conscious the last time he jumped a water tray he face planted in the mud at Hickstead! But he didn't care and jumped it effortlessly; producing a very quick time to put us in a very close 2nd place.
After a long agonising wait, he finished 4th; 2nd, 3rd and 4th all within a second of each other with the winner a bit further ahead but not much. I was thrilled for 3 reasons; 1. We qualified for the Blue Chip Final! 2. He now has 5 newcomers double clears so is qualified for his second rounds! 3. With a bit of practise and experience he would have won as I could have cut a bit tighter back to the angle :)
All in all a very good day with a very good horse for the future.
Unfortunately with all the stress, no-one managed to film the first round and then Dad forgot the camera again for the jump off! So no pictures this time sorry :(
But there is a video of the jump off on Immy's phone on my eventing facebook page...