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Holiday Time For Billy Bank

Top of the Morning to you,

And today the sun is bright but spirits low as the country heads back into lockdown for a month. Let's all hope everyone is sensible, obeying the guidelines, and we can all stay safe and well so December enables everyone to be with friends and family ready for Christmas.

Crikey I can't believe Christmas is on the horizon already, October flew by with some great outings and trips away. Minnie Haha and I were entered for the BE under 18's 90 at Bishop Burton at the beginning of the month, but sadly rain stopped play and the second day of competition at our local venue was cancelled. Still, we had a great team event to head off to the following weekend at Weston Park where The Young Master and I were part of The Check Mates. The Old Girl had come up with this name, not because of her love of chess, but the team consisted of coloured horses including the Pocket Rocket who was once my stable mate.

We travelled to Shropshire the night before and stabled in a great yard close to the venue. Other Yorkshire mates, The Unicorn Sister and Fat Boy Slim, also rocked up with young jockeys ready to compete in the 80 class. I have to say there was quite a lot of noise from the humans, raucous laughing and a need for a recycling bin in the morning for all the empties! This didn't seem to hinder anyone the following morning and when we arrived at Weston everyone was blown away by the stunning scenery of the ancient parkland. It really set the tone for the competition and the Check Mates more than lived up to expectations taking a win in the section. To top it all the Pocket Rocket produced the best test of her career, a fabulous double clear and an individual win too. I can only imagine more recycling bins were required when the celebrations finished.

Back home it was business as usual, a trip to He who Must be Obeyed, and plenty of practice for the national 80 final which Minnie Haha had qualified me for. This had been one of our goals for the season with the hope to travel to the iconic venue at Burghley but due to Covid 19, the championship was re-scheduled to Norton Disney. It was very exciting to enter at A through some potted plants and do a test in such a huge and well-dressed arena. Despite our practices having been foot perfect, nerves kicked in resulting in some odd shaped circles and rather dubious transitions but, at aged only 14 Minnie Haha, one of the youngest in the competition, gave it her best shot and we tried our best. A brilliant double clear, neatly inside the time pulled us right up the pecking order to finish 19th in what was a huge section. The Old Girl had privately said if we came in the top 20 she would be delighted so it was pats a plenty and lots of treats with the tea time Fibre-Beet. Glamour Girl delivered in the under 18 90 to finish 8th ticking off another goal achieved for Minnie Haha who had wanted at least 2 top ten places in these competitions. There is a definite feeling of satisfaction when our goals are achieved, reinforcing the belief the training and feeding methods are successful. This season has for sure, been one to remember and I have never felt better or my coat shone so since The Old Girl started feeding British horse Feed Cooked Linseed. 2020 has been the year of winning two rugs but no buckets, I think I feel a poem coming on!

There was more excitement to come when I headed off to Cheshire, with the Young Pretender, for an under 18's training camp at Somerford Park. I had a whale of a time, as did the Minnies who learnt so much from great Northern coaches. Based on my performance over the two days The Old Girl suggested Minnie Haha stepped up a level and we tried our first metre show jumping competition before giving me a holiday. "Under estimate me? That'll be fun" has become my new motto and I gave The Old Girl something to think about when I cruised round at Port Royal posting a double clear and taking a win! The latest and newest addition to Team Ireland, having her first outing with Minnie Haha also delivered a double clear to finish 5th and when the Young Pretender took 3rd place the humans were cockahoop.

And now it's holidays. I have had my jabs, my back done and I am already bored. Anyone who knows me will know I will be up to mischief soon. The Legend who started his holidays sooner than me now resembles a woolly mammoth. Like me he is looking forward to being back in work and heading off to some BE arena eventing competitions in the New Year. Thankfully our rations of Fibre-Beet have not been cut and when the evenings or mornings are a bit chilly, The Old Girl gives us a warming mash... we are so blessed to be sure.

Stay safe everyone, be alert and keep enjoying your Fibre-Beet.

Love Billy Bank x