My final preparations for Mitsubishi Motors Badminton went well. As planned I took Designer to Boomerang for a final cross country school with Andrew Nicholson and we focussed on jumping in and out of water at different angles – I knew there would be some testing water complexes at Badminton.
There’s been so little rain that the ground was on the firm side, so I didn’t want to practice other fences but it was enough to know that Designer was on form. Then last Friday we went show jump training on grass with Grant Wilson, which ticked another box.
Arriving at Badminton is always exciting. Designer feels better than ever, and more relaxed in his mind. He has the best brain, and knows that he has to behave in the trot up and concentrate in the dressage before he gets to go cross country. He looked fantastic in the trot up, all thanks to Izzy Nowicki who normally works for Matthew Heath but is helping me here. She really knows how to turn a horse out beautifully.
Our dressage was today and Designer was definitely ready to go jumping. I had to contain him a little which meant that he was slightly on the tight side but he felt good. We finished the day in second place on a score of 39.1.
I’ve walked the cross country course twice already, once with my student Alice Naber-Lozeman and once with Andrew (Nicholson) and the French riders. Alice and I will walk it again tomorrow morning with Andrew, and I always like to do a final walk, early on the Saturday morning, on my own, to firm up all my plans and options.
I’m glad I will be sitting on a good jumper on Saturday, this is certainly not going to be a dressage competition. It’s very different to last year but I find it hard to compare designers. I like Guiseppe’s courses [the previous designer] but I’ve also had lovely rides over Eric Winter’s courses too [Bettina won Blenheim CCI3* last year].
It’s one big question after another out there. The time will be tough and Eric has been very clever, siting lots of fences so you have to turn in to them, which will slow us all down. I’m glad I did Burghley with Designer last autumn – given I don’t ride many horses any more, it can be hard to really keep your eye in at the top level. If this was my first ever Four Star I would probably be thinking S**T!
I know Designer can do it, and will be looking forward to it. I can’t promise that I won’t have a slightly sleepless night tomorrow night.