There was a bit of a wait before the show jumping, which was on a lovely surface, so everyone was able to dry off a bit before getting soaked again. The course was big and bold and needed riding on a forward stride. I didn't need telling twice and I sailed round clear, earning some praise from the commentator on my stylish performance and pats and treats from the ground crew. My Irish jig back to the lorry is now becoming my trade mark but I have a feeling it does not sit well with The Old Girl so I shall have to watch that or her continual threat to buy a Granny's ride 14.2 Connemara might actually happen and I'll be left at home (unlikely in all reality). Fancy Piece made nothing of the show jumping, despite her rider's worries, and the pair of us headed down to the collecting ring for the best part of the day… cross-country. For two Irish, coloured bog ponies the rain and mud held no fears. Do we not often train in such conditions or worse? For sure we do. Minnie Haha did a stellar job keeping me balanced round the course and I came in neatly under the time to finish on my dressage score. Fancy Piece was on target for a clear too until the rider's satnav failed giving them a technical 20 penalties when they crossed their tracks. Washed off and rugged up we headed home as Covid protocol dictates. Thankful the sport is continuing to run in such testing times. There was much delight when the results were finalised and I finished 6th, putting money in the bank again which is unprecedented. We will surely have to go and buy some buckets soon, not having won a single one this year!#
After my cheekiness in the dressage I wasn't surprised to find myself subjected to plenty of training in that discipline during the run up to Frickley Park. Minnie Haha and I had our last chance to qualify for the 80 Championships, which should have been held at Iconic Burghley this year, so i had to produce a smart test with no Tom Foolery . The Legend reminded me of this on the journey as yes at aged 23 years young he was finally making his BE debut. In the past he had been deemed too small... what? He thinks he's 16.2 and can take strides out of horse distances like The Old Girl swills coffee and although The Young Master jumped round many a BE track under pony club rules, he had never actually done a BE event until Polly picked up the mantle. Knowing what an ace he is, I fully expected him to outshine me as usual, though our coats are both gleaming thanks to British Horse Feeds Cooked Linseed which The Old Girl adds liberally in every feed now.
What a party it was at Frickley, we had a ball, even the yard Guardian came for the ride. He walked the cross country course twice, helping dispel the belief all Rottweiler’s are fierce and should only star in The Omen, and like everyone in this yard is now an expert dispensing his new found knowledge generously. With seven of us flying the flag for Team Ireland , fuelled by Fibre-Beet and coats glistening in the sunlight the weather could not have been more different to Richmond. I always find it relaxing at Frickley and trundled round in the dressage keeping everyone happy. The Legend produced a tidy test and the Young Master on The Unicorn Sister was handily placed too. Fat Boy Slim, always a joker, couldn't resist a buck in an otherwise nice test, with newbies Diva and Don not disappointing either. Fancy Piece found the whole dressage phase just too boring and decided to spice it up with some airs above the ground. Whoops... we all know what that will result in ... boot camp. She later redeemed herself by jumping beautifully, producing a sound double clear.
With all the sections so closely marked there was no room for error. A double clear inside the time it had to be. Minnie Haha had the perfect temperament keeping ice cool while others faltered. Together we delivered! Now we would just have to wait to see if we finished in the top five to secure a championship place. Minnie Haha had to leap off me onto Don and disappeared in hot pursuit of Diva. The Legend posted a leisurely double clear accruing a few time penalties but as he said, he doesn't get out much so he wanted to admire the scenery (and be admired of course). Naturally he received glowing compliments from the BE ground crew monitoring the warm up areas. The Unicorn Sister, fitter now, cruised round to finish 7th in a huge, competitive section which gave her a ticket for next year's regional final much to the delight of Tinkerbelle who has now told The Young Master he cannot gain a single pound or grow another inch! Don and Diva both had stage fright in front of the big house which caused a few poles in the show jumping. Cross-country went better for the youngsters, Don sailing home clear. Diva took exception to a water sprite at the second water and was convinced she would be turned into a frog. Since that episode she has been kissed by a Prince and turned into a Duchess whilst overcoming her fear of dark, leafy, wet places with the Old Girl whistling Dixie behind her! Fat Boy Slim jumped a super clear show jumping but in an uncharacteristic manner had a slip on the cross-country between fences and parted company with Baby Face.
We were all washed off, legs iced and loaded ready for home when the news came in I had finished 3rd gaining my place at the Championship final next month at Norton Disney.
October looks like being a busy month now as I also head to Bishop Burton for another under 18 competition with Minnie Haha, followed by a team competition at Weston Park.
The Young Master and three of his friends have formed 'The Check Mates' and will be battling it out against other teams from across the country. A trip away I can't wait... and rest assured we will have plenty of Fibre-Beet and Cooked Linseed on board to fuel our ambitions.
Stay safe everyone, keep alert whilst smiling and don't forget to eat British Horse Feeds Cooked Linseed if you want to outshine the opposition.
Love Billy Bank xx