All smiles for Team Billy Bank

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Top of the Morning to you,
I hope you are all keeping well? Life does seem to be heading towards normality again in many areas although it was the first summer the Young Master and I did not have a residential Pony Club Camp to attend. With the risk from the virus still prevalent all camps were suspended and replaced with day rallies and events. Let’s hope next year will see us all back camping with our friends. However, we have managed to have a lot of fun and have been super busy throughout August.
I headed up to Skipton Horse Trials at the beginning of the month with a new travelling partner on board – the Unicorn Sister- who belongs to Tinkerbelle. The Young Master was riding her while Minnie Haha picked up my reins for a regional final class. Glamour Girl and Fancy Piece were on the other lorry and more by luck than judgement we arrived simultaneously and parked next to each other. The Unicorn produced a very nice test to the stunning back drop of the hills but I rather forgot myself and cantered down the centre line… whoops! Minnie Haha kept very cool and reminded me this wasn’t required at this level! I redeemed myself with a double clear to finish in 10th place which wasn’t good enough to qualify for the final later in the year at Norton Disney. I shall have to put the dressage diva hat, or bling browband, on for Frickley Park when I have another chance. The Young Master and the Unicorn sister finished just out of the placing’s with a pesky pole and a few time faults in the cross-country. Fancy Piece chalked up another double clear to take 8th place. Glamour Girl was well placed after her usual stunning dressage test and clear show jumping but it was obvious half way round the cross-country something wasn’t quite right when Minnie Haha pulled up. Thankfully nothing more than a lost shoe and small over reach.
Our next outing was a really big adventure, my first three day event at Vale View Equestrian Centre made all the more special as The Legend was entered too. He had been threatening to come out of retirement and when he heard the event would be run on a surface he positively demanded to be taken. With all the British Horse Feed Cooked Linseed he has been consuming he is unstoppable and no one can deny at 23 years young he looks better than ever. The Old Girl has been including the Cooked Linseed in my diet and the compliments I have received recently on the quality of my coat are surely linked.
What a ball we had down in Leicestershire, The Legend and I with our friends The Unicorn Sister and Fat Boy Slim, both piloted by their regular jockeys Babyface and Bugsy. And for sure at these parties you always run into other friends you haven’t seen for a while and you have a great craic. All the training I have undertaken in the poor British weather over the months with ‘He Who Must be Obeyed ‘really stood me in good stead as a howling gale raged on day one threatening to blow the roof off the stables while horse boxes rocked in the lorry parked making the occupants sea sick. Strangely enough there weren’t any Leprechauns around, which is odd as they often seem to favour such conditions. The ponies all posted respectable scores in their sections so I knew I had better behave too, no cantering unless required! The judge must have thought I did a nice job as I finished in the lead, admittedly by the smallest of margins but none the less it felt good.
Day two and it was cross –country day… the best bit in my opinion. The course for all the classes ran over the impressive and extensive arenas which even included a water complex. The jockeys all walked the tracks several times to ensure they knew their routes. Bugsy and The Unicorn sister sailed round clear to pull up into a top ten position. The Legend gave his new jockey, Polly, the ride of her life zipping round clear alongside Babyface and Fat boy slim. They both finished handily placed ready for show jumping on day three. The time was tight in my class with no one coming close but I relished the challenge. The Young Master set me up beautifully at every fence not wasting a single second and before I knew it we had flown through the finish clear with the fastest time of the day and extended lead now of 12 penalties. I danced an Irish jig all the way back to the stables with The Old Girl hanging on for dear life! I heard later she had downed rather a lot of Pimm’s and become quite giddy, giggling with Tinkerbelle at the slightest thing! It didn’t stop her being up early the following morning to tart us all up for the trot up.
Day 3 – Trot up and show jumping. The Old Girl, always an early riser, gave us all breakfast before taking The Legend for a leg stretch. I saw her being dragged across a grass field at high speed so it was safe to assume the old boy wasn’t feeling the effects of his cross-country round. Being hogged he was one less she had to plait! Soon we were all ready and our unrecognisable riders appeared. Who were all these glamour boys and girls? Well, with a pair of Fairfax and Favour boots on offer for the best turned out the humans had really made an effort… it was like super model city!
There was no time to rest on our laurels; we were back for a session with He Who Must Be Obeyed in readiness for our next BE outing at Shelford Manor. “Again, again ,again,” rang in the air until finally “Good” and we were allowed to move onto some jumping. It is the attention to detail that pays off and I trotted down the centre line on perfect going at Shelford feeling very relaxed. I knew the Young Master had walked the cross-country course twice, he was leaving nothing to chance. I had wings on my feet in the show jumping and pinged everything to finish clear. It was a quick turnabout and onto the cross country. What a round we had, one of our best ever I would say. As I galloped through the finish I heard the commentator say we had taken the lead in our section… but would we stay in first place?
There was much excitement back at the box, when once I had been washed off and walked round, as it was confirmed I had WON. What a partnership the Young Master and I have built up and we are so grateful to all our supporters and backers. British Horse Feeds products certainly keep me and my friends in peak condition, Fantastic books publishing Ltd and Jackson Handling Ltd provide kit for both me and The Young Master keeping us smart and safe.
Next stop Richmond to be ridden in the under 18’s open BE 90, no pressure Minnie Haha!
Keep smiling everyone, stay alert and eat your Fibre-Beet, the fuel of champions.
Love Billy Bank xx

Bugsy and The Unicorn Sister were first of our bunch to show jump and they jumped a cracking round in a class where clears were few and far between pulling themselves higher up the ranking to finish 8th. What a great result at their first competition! Babyface and Fatboy Slim also went clear. The Legend had an unfortunate pole at the bogey fence which kept him just out of the rosettes but what a comeback. He is now talking about future events and telling anyone who will listen what a marvellous product British Horse Feeds Cooked Linseed is and combined with Fibre-Beet he finished 12th at an International three day event. (I suppose Leicestershire counts as international when you spend most of your time in East Yorkshire).
With all the classes being run in reverse order, to add to the excitement, I had to wait until last for my show jumping round. I hoped our nerve would hold. The course was causing problems. Having been the bridesmaid, well maybe the best man, on many occasions today was our day and we sailed round to take the win. Boy it felt good being presented with a sash and rug. I couldn’t stop smiling. What a weekend of fun we had all had. The journey home seemed to pass in a flash as the Legend and I relived every moment.