The Blenheim Palace Riding Club Eventers Challenge 2015 sponsored by Gray Hooper Holt
On probably the wettest day of the year, the team, consisting of Polly Hall riding
Lascar’s Touch, Liz Raven riding Foxy Orange, Laura Matthews riding Rock Me
Ralph & Steph Cockburn riding Zeitgeist, headed up to Banbury.
The team arrived at Lyneham Heath Equestrian (which we all decided was very
posh, with the indoor hot water wash bays!), to stay overnight before heading straight
to Blenheim to following morning.
All the horses exercised well that evening, despite the weather (luckily there was an
indoor school!), before the riders and supporters settled down in the static caravans
(with a TV!) for home cooked chilli made by Team Manager Liz’s fair hands!
The next morning, we all awoke to beautiful sunshine (thank goodness!). Horses,
riders and supporters all headed out to the Cross Country course for a leg stretch
and to take in the beautiful scenery before packing up & heading off (I think everyone
was feeling sick with nerves at this point!)
On arriving, horses boxes used 1 entrance, and cars another, opposite ends of the
grounds! Somehow, after all walking miles, up and down hills, we managed to meet
up at the arena so the riders could learn the course, before then walking more miles
back to the lorry park to get horses and riders ready.
We all headed up to the arena, watching plenty of rounds to learn the course and get
prime position for taking pictures (thanks Jason & Kim!), and got the horses warmed
First up was Laura & Ralph. Ralph has never been easy, being so big, and Laura so
small, it was difficult to keep his attention on the job in hand. Sadly, as soon as Ralph
entered the arena he took a disliking to the tannoy & crowds watching! It resulted in a
good effort, but elimination at the double of skinny brush fences – not the best start,
but onwards & upwards!
Second to go was Liz & Foxy – they flew round inside the time for a clear round!
Third up was Steph & Zeit, being an ex-racehorse he doesn’t have the most natural
ability to ‘round off’ over fences and tends to flatten. They both did a credible job and
ended on 8 faults.
Last to go was Polly & Sailor, who are known for pulling it out the bag when we need
it so there was lots of pressure on Polly to do well. Sailor looked alert & up for the
challenge as they entered, but stopped at the first fence and took the whole thing
down, meaning the clock had to be stopped & the fence re-built! None of us could
quite believe it! Anyway, Polly cracked on with it and flew around at the second
attempt to finish on just 4 faults.
Sadly, it wasn’t the team’s day, but saying that, we all had the most amazing time
and was the opportunity of a lifetime for some to ride a such a high profile event!
I can’t thank Gray Hooper Holt enough for their generous sponsorship, providing the
team with very smart base layers to wear, along with a t-shirt for Team Manager, Liz,
which will be used for years to come no doubt.