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I’m writing this off the back of a very exciting win at Rockingham in Leicestershire at the weekend. I got the first and second placingswith Barrichello (Barry) and Shannondale Percy (Percy) and ended up with identical scores for both horses, which was pretty incredible. Barry got first place with a score of 28.30 penalties – dressage score of 24.3, and 4 show jumping faults. Whilst Percy got second place, ALSO with 28.30, but a dressage score of 27.5 and 0.8 time faults cross-country. It made getting up in the middle of the night and leaving the yard at 1.45am all worthwhile, and the journey home was a pleasure after that success.
It feels like the season has now well and truly started. We’ve got a very exciting summer and autumn of eventing ahead.
Obviously this weekend we have Pontispool, which is going to be very exciting – I’m taking five horses on Saturday and five on Sunday – which will be my 100 and Novice horses. I’ve also got three in the regional Gatcombe final. Ellouise - aka Junior Bragg (the first!) will then be competing on the Monday. She competed at Millfield last weekend, and had a super dressage test and cross-country round and just missed coming into the combination quite right in the show jumping to have a pole down, but she thoroughly enjoyed it and had a really nice time. I found it really nerve wracking as a spectator, and it was good to put myself in the shoes of everyone who watches me from the side lines in order to get a bit of empathy for how they feel – especially Simmone.
After Pontispool, the big lorry will be at home all packed and ready to leave on Monday night for Tattersall’s in Ireland – I’m taking three over there (in fact writing this has reminded me I better book the ferry!) Cooga Hat Trick will be doing the 6 & 7 year olds CCI*, ShannondalePercy the CCI**, and Barrichello the CCI***. Pontispool acts as the final preparation run for Tattersall’s – and it feels so good to be hitting form at the right time for the International competitions.
When you’re riding that many horses, and find yourself walking the course at 6am, it’s really reassuring to know you have a truly great team behind you. I might be the guy at the head of the team, but it’s all the other guys making the cogs turn smoothly to ensure all the horses are immaculately turned out and I’m wearing the right things on the right horse with the right number at the right time!
Following the tragic events at Badminton, I’ve said a lot about my old pal, Reeko aka Redpath Ransom, who devastatingly had to be put down due to irreparable injuries to his suspensory ligament on his right front leg. The way I look at it is that I am really grateful for everything that horse has done for me. What I’m most proud of from what happened is that all of the owners and everyone within Team Bragg rallied round and supported each other and Simmone and me.
Zagreb and Redpath Ransom came up through the grades together, and we built the entire yard around them. They created the whole ethos around the team spirit here. When tragedy strikeslike that it makes you realise how special thefeeling is here in our own particular extended eventing family; how everyone here cares about each and everyone, and cares about the yard. I’m very proud that those horses have created thatfeeling – and fittingly that’s Reeko’s legacy. Of course, I cherish the memories of the amazing round at Aachen we had, but more that he was a really integral part of setting up our yard.
People have shared videos and photos of his last day when we were going around Badminton and those shared moments have been magic. He went out in the best way possible – the way he skipped through the lake, and the cheers from the crowds, he was living it and loving it right up to his last moments. When we were in the start box, I had supporters cheering and giving me high fives; we were both so relaxed – with him and me together as a partnership and a team. We shared some really amazing and great moments.
Sadly, they’re the highs and lows of eventing. It makes you really appreciate the good times. It takes good people to ride the rollercoaster with you – one minute you’re up high, and the next so low down. Cherish every moment. Reflect and reassess and do it together. As they say ‘Team work makes the dream work’.
With that we’re all really looking forward to Pontispool this weekend, because their particular special team always put a great course together. I shall need plenty of Jelly Babies to keep my energy levels up! I hope to see you there, cheering me on.