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With two weeks to go before the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials, our sponsored rider Alex Bragg is putting the finishing touches to his preparation.
There are only two weeks to go until the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials. Redpath Ransom is on the wait list, and Zagreb has been drawn third. Itís not a great draw as historically the dressage marks can be more conservative on the first day with fewer ďwowĒ marks.
If Redpath Ransom gets in, heís one of the last to go on the Friday so we might get the rub of the draw. He only needs a few horses to come out so thereís a slim chance he may run but if he doesnít, weíre in a win win situation as heís been invited onto a Nations Cup team at Strzegom in Poland which runs from May 17 Ė 21. Thatís where the Europeans will be held in the autumn so it will be good to go there and see the place. It will be our first experience on a team too so whether he goes to Badminton or Poland, its all very positive.
Both horses have had the same build up to Badminton except Zagreb didnít run across country at Burnham Market as I knew he was guaranteed to get in at Badminton and didnít want to risk him.
Heíd had a terrific run at Belton Park at the end of March where we won the Polly Phillips Trophy for the highest placed rider who has never been on a British team before.
Both horses are feeling really fit and jumping out of their skins. Over the next two weeks they will have a canter around the fields, maybe a small jump, and one light canter, but nothing heavy. We will probably go to Pontispool for a breeze round.
They are already fit, and now its just a case of working on their suppleness so that they go there raring to go and feeling one hundred per cent. They had their last serious piece of fast work before Burnham Market and itís about peaking them at exactly the right time so that they donít go over and lose enthusiasm. When you leave that start box you want them feeling like they can take on the world.
The last few days Iíve been put through my paces a bit by a personal trainer who has been giving me advice on what I can do to improve my performance and strength. Heís been focusing on my symmetry, most noticeably being able to control the tilt of your pelvis at the top of your legs so that you remain in balance all the time. At the top end of the sport itís the small things that can make a huge difference. Iím trying to stay relaxed about Badminton, but its been quite a big build up!
Chloe Howson, my head girl, will be coming along with my whole family Ė my wife Simmone and children Ellouise, Sienna and Florence who have been given a reprieve from school. We also have the largest contingent of travelling Team Bragg supporters too. It will be really exciting. Whether it goes well or not, it should be a great experience and Iím really looking forward to it.
Weíre embracing the fashion parade that goes hand in hand with the trot up with full enthusiasm and I think the only thing I have to supply myself are my pants after several sponsors came forward to generously supply products.
Iíll donning a mix of Fairfax and Favour, the Oxfordshire Company, Country Equestrian Jewellers and Timothy Fox, and You never know, we might win the best dressed competition!
All in all the season has been going really well. Weíre at Bicton Arena this weekend and Withington just before Badminton. After Badminton weíre off to Tattersalls and then maybe to Luhmuhlen.
The younger, exciting horses are still going really well and Pontispool has proved invaluable in their schooling. The gallops have been brilliant. Itís been a really hectic time, and I had to take a bit of a pull for a day or so, as I hadnít seen my children during the Easter holidays which gave me huge pangs of guilt and made me feel like the worst dad in the world. It will be wonderful having them and Simmone with me at Badminton, as whatever happens, the whole experience will be fantastic.