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Tuesday 4th May - Wednesday 5th May, 2021 #SSCup

Sophie Hall: The party’s over but The Memories Will Live On Forever!

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This is our last blog which is so sad. Thank you British Eventing and the Mitsubishi Motors Cup for enabling Sophie and I to record this incredible journey!  Sophie is heading into her first University exam (her French Oral) as I write this on her behalf – poor girl but below is what Sophie had to say about her experience throughout her week.

Rain, Rain, Rain

On arriving at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup site early afternoon of Monday 2nd May, in torrential rain, we really did wonder what the next few days would bring.

We got Guss into his stable which was absolutely lovely and he had some great friends around him too. Thank you Nic Bevan (fellow Mitsubishi Motors Cup blogger) for advising us to let Guss eat the grass before putting the bedding down – that was definitely a good move!

We decided to do the course walk with Team GBR Eventing Performance Manager Yogi Breisner on Monday afternoon. It was absolutely brilliant albeit still raining hard! Yogi was so informative right from the start box and what a fantastic experience. The course seemed so long and very technical, quite different to anything we had jumped before but the reality of being to ride around the amazing Badminton Estate was a dream come true and I was determined to get round. I would be having a team talk with little Guss later.

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Late afternoon the rain started to ease. The tractors had done a great job getting people in. I decided to ride Guss and then to start plaiting up as I had an early dressage at 9.30am. The warming up area was fantastic, so much room for everyone and you could tell then just how amazing the ground was.

Dressage Diva

Having had a pretty sleepless night (mainly because it was so cold in the caravan – dad was too worried about the gas heater!) I was up early at 7.00am to give Guss his breakfast and start getting prepared. The sun was shining and My Auntie Juddy and Uncle Martyn had also arrived from Norfolk to cheer us on which was great. The whole stable was buzzing and everyone was so friendly, it really was a great atmosphere.

Guss was looking great and so chilled – Was that a good sign or not?? Into the dressage we went and everyone was so kind in saying it was a good test although I was annoyed that I had once hiccup in the corner when I had done one too many walk to canter transitions in the warm up and it was a bit touch and go to get the trot transition. Considering we had not even managed to get one dressage lesson before the event I was pleased.

We soon learnt that we had achieved a 29 dressage which we were thrilled with!

So nice to then have the rest of the day to walk the course again and generally take in the atmosphere and enjoy the reality of being at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton.

Nick Gauntlet was walking the course Tuesday afternoon so the whole family went. Nick was so great too and pointed out how well everyone had done to get to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup and it was good to get another perspective. Nick was quite concerned about the straight route into the water as the horses would see the expanse of the lake and could be put off. I thought about this most of the night but decided the direct route on all of the jumps, if Guss was on a good stride, would be the safest.

Tuesday evening we went to drinks in the Mitsubishi Motors Hospitality marquee by the Lake. It was surreal to be standing on the lawn with the lake and Badminton House in the background drinking Pimms. Mary and Emily King milling in the crowd – was this really a dream? We met my old school friend Sophie Walker and she said she thought the cross country was challenging and was taking no chances at the water. (Little did we know she would go on to win the BE90!) Well done Sophie and family.

Jumping part 1 – the show jumping

Wednesday morning arrived – The big day. Oh my goodness so nervous. I walked the show jumping course several times only to realise that the whole course was to be altered for the 90 aargh. Guss was very much on his toes, he so loves his jumping and changes completely from the dressage phase. Our friend Claire Reid-Warrilow unexpectedly appeared to walk the course with me. Thank you so much Claire, you were amazing and really helped to calm me and little Guss down. Another friend of ours Spencer Sturmey was doing the commentating which further added to my nerves. In we went and Guss flew round – a couple of poles rattled but nothing came down and we were clear yeahhhhhh, so so happy!

Jumping part 2 – the cross country

Obviously being so early on in the whole competition does have its disadvantages and we had no idea how the cross country was running. No time to worry we just had to get down to the start box. Claire came with me there too which again was great. Mum was at the start but so nervous she was just waiting for me at the end with her fingers in her ears.

Guss got quite under the first jump as it did come up quite quickly but from then on we were off and picked up a nice consistent rhythm. I could not believe how well Guss was jumping, he did not look at a thing. Nick Gauntlet had told us to smile at fence 4, the ASX Cross Question, in front of Badminton House because that is where the photographer was so I did try to do that. Guss flew through the water which was amazing and I was so worried about the brush combination but again he just took it in his stride.  I could feel the goosebumps on my arms, it was the most wonderful feeling ever to be riding such a fantastic course in the most perfect of conditions.

I did look at my watch, although it was only the second time I had worn one, I knew I was ok at the beginning of the course and I knew we were riding all the direct routes and therefore not losing much time.

There were Mum and Dad at the finish, Mum burst out crying, we had done it. I could not believe it, so little preparation time, so little riding it was quite surreal. The only slight down point was when I realised I had gone too fast, how could that happen? Obviously Dad riding up and down the Shropshire Hills had got Guss fitter than I had thought (thank you Dad).

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We incurred two time penalties which meant we ended on 31 double clear and 12th place. I then found out from the Chairman of the Event Horse Owners Association – Cathy Butler – that we had won the BE90 award for the highest place EHOA member and would be riding to Badminton House for the presentation. Wow how fantastic, thank you Cathy!

Riding in front of the Badminton House

Jeremy Lawton – Managing Director of Shearwater Insurance presented me with my prize of a Jacket, a Silver Salver and £200 – thank you so much Jeremy, the honour of this prize meant the world to us all.

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Straight after the presentation we packed up and headed home as I had to get on a train the next morning back up to Durham and my finals.

We had the most horrendous journey home with the M5 jammed and poor Guss in the trailer for five hours! We arrived home at 1am but still decided to turn Guss out with his best friend George who was waiting for him the field.

One week has now passed and we still cannot believe the wonderful experience we had at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup. We would like to thank everyone involved in making such a prestigious event for the amateur rider so very special.

We have just received the cross country video from Total Recall, and our dear friend Carlos Paro pointed out that at jump three the Park Logs, Michael Jung and his father stopped to watch Guss and I jump – how completely incredible!

We just want to do it all over again……..

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