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All parking is on the hard standing down by the arena Ė drive into the stable yard and turn right immediately after the horse walker. Andrew will meet you there before going out onto the course.
Please can I remind you that this is a cross country clinic and a body protector must be worn together with a jockey skull cap to current British safety regulations (hard hats with a fixed peak are not permitted).
Should you have to cancel on the day or will be late for the clinic, please could you contact Andrew direct on 07768 825857.
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The 2017 season is drawing to a close and hopefully it will finish for us on a high note at Pau where we head next Sunday evening with Zagreb and Redpath Ransom. Itís a long drive down to the south of France but itís a great event in a lovely setting.
Zagreb went there last year and was fifth. Fingers crossed weíll follow that good form next week. Heís really stepped up to the mark this season. We were unfortunate not to be selected for the Europeans but maybe it was a good thing as he went well at Gatcombe and then won at Bicton. He was also eighth at Blenheim in the ERM3*. It was a nice run around for us as he has plenty of experience and we really enjoyed it. It was great that the showjumping and cross country were so influential as otherwise it becomes a dressage competition. The ground at Blenheim was fantastic too. Iíd forgotten how nice it is riding there, as although it is undulating, itís very smooth and has a really good flow.
Redpath Ransom had a busy first half of the season and was placed at Strzegom, Aachen and had a top 20 finish at Luhmuhlen. He was also fourth in the eventersí Grand Prix at Hickstead where he had the fastest time, but had an unlucky pole. It was great to ride at Hickstead and the experience was great. Heís had a lot of little breaks and heís really fresh and ready for Pau now, so fingers cross for a good result.
The young horses have all progressed very well this season and I hope next year theyíll step up to intermediate so that I start to have more horses at the higher levels to support the two big boys. Iíd love to have a proper crack at the ERM series next year but to do that I need more horses at that level so that Zagreb and Redpath Ransom can continue running in the three days.
The classes suit me down to the ground as Iím quite an attacking rider, theyíre so exciting to ride in and its great to be a part of the series. The prize money is fantastic, each leg helps raise your profile through the publicity surrounding it and the build up, live footage and interviews are all brilliant
Thereís a great team behind the series that work hard to make it exciting. That's what the public really engages in, and it makes it so much more interesting. This season they made huge improvements on last year and I donít doubt that next year will be better again. They added Europe to the series this year, and next year there will be an American leg Ė itís fantastic! I watched each leg as its so exciting to watch, and Iím competing every day!
Our girls have been busy competing in showjumping and one day events. Ellouise, whoís nearly 13, will affiliate next year and ride in BE80s and 90s. Sheís been working her socks off and we have some nice horse lined up for her. Sienna has been competing a lot too while Florence, who is only seven, is proving utterly fearless. Sheís a point and jump girl! I think theyíll be taking over the yard soon.
Weíre at Westpoint in December for the South West Equine Fair, which is exciting. It will be interesting, educational and fun Ė well thatís the plan anyway!
For some reason, Iím also on the official poster for next yearís World Equestrian Games jumping out of the page Ė which is great. Maybe itís an omen Ė that would be really nice. Iíll certainly be giving it my best shot!
Itís been such a great season, but none of it would be possible without my sponsors who are Pontispool Equine Sports Centre, Protexin, Devoucoux, Gatehouse, Mark Todd Collection, Griffin Nuumed, Gain Feeds & Dengie.
Badminton was an amazing experience with Zagreb. I donít think I have ever had so much fun across country. When we completed everyone who had come up to support us was crying, cheering, laughing, and there were a few bubbles mixed in too. Between us we felt every emotion. It was frustrating on the Sunday that we couldnít show jump as heíd bumped his stifle and we decided to save him for another day.
The build up involved three months of intense preparation for Zagreb so that he was able to peak at the show and the hard work paid off as after the cross country he recovered well and his heart rate returned to normal after a short time.
By Monday he was sound and on the Wednesday I rode him and gave him a good stretch. Since then heís had three weeks of light hacking and time out in the field giving his muscles plenty of time to relax and recover and now heís gradually coming back into full work as preparation begins for the European Championships in August, where I am hopeful of selection. He proved himself to be one of the best horses in the world as that was one of the toughest courses seen for a very long time. He was best of the British after the dressage and cross country phases and we have both gained so much experience, despite not going showjumping.
With these big horses you aim for two big shows a year Ė one in the spring and one in the autumn, and the rest of the time is spent in preparation.
You have to build up fitness levels so that you get that all important one hundred per cent out of your horse at that show. If Badminton had been two weeks earlier he might not have been quite ready, two weeks later and I might have over-cooked him.
Redpath Ransom didnít get into Badminton but I was asked to be a part of the Nations Cup team competing at Strzegom in Poland, the same venue as where the Europeans will be which gave me a really great opportunity to get to know the event ahead of possible team selection. It was also the first time Iíve worn the British flag which was a great feeling.
We were first to go for the team Ė I am not sure if they wanted to test my mettle and see if my character could take the pressure!
Going first means you need to be able to come back and give some constructive feedback to the other team members. It really got my adrenalin going! I loved it. On the final day I showjumped last for the team, and while we werenít going to win, we finished second on the podium as a team, and I was best of the British, fourth individually, which was great.
It was a very good performance for me, and I hope it proved to the selectors that I have got championship ability.
On the technical side, I am still playing catch up as a lot of riders have been competing for so many more years than me, but at least I know I can turn up on the day, not let the side down, cope with the pressure and put in a strong performance for the team. Hopefully it will stand me in good stead.
Iíve not come up through the normal channels where selectors get to know you through the Junior and Young Rider programmes, and everything has happened so quickly Ė last September I rode in my first four star at Burghley. The selectors donít really know much about me, so going to Poland was a good fact finding mission for them. Now I just have to have good enough form during July when Zagreb will go to Barbury International and hopefully weíll get picked.
If it doesnít happen, itís not the be all and end all, as we can still target the big shows with Badminton the focus. I think both my top horses are more Badminton than Burghley types which suits more thoroughbred types.
With Luhmuhlen on the agenda for Redpath Ransom next week, I will have experienced all four of Europeís four star tracks having ridden at Pau and Burghley last year.
This weekend I went to Tattersalls with two young horses and the lovely mare Swang Crackers who ran in the CICO3*. We were asked to go on the Nations Cup team but unfortunately we had a run out one fence from home but I was really pleased with her. Itís a very strong three star track so I was proud with how she coped and she jumped round really well. The two young horses both went clear across country and jumped well on the final day, with two rails down each, as their bodies donít quite work as quick as they needed to, but that will come. Tattersalls itself is such an amazing venue. Everything about it is immaculate. It was a great experience.
Iíve had a re-think about the way I compete the horses, as previously I didnít compete in internationals until they got to two star which meant their first experience of a big show with all the atmosphere was when they were seven or eight. Now I will compete them younger in one star classes so that they can get used to competing in that type of environment. Big young horses do take time to mature, but they coped so well with the atmosphere. You are always making minor adjustments to your system to improve it, and only experience can help you do that.
Pontispoolís gallops have been fantastic in my horsesí preparation. All the young horses have been going there regularly for schooling too and it plays an integral part in their training. Zagreb will go there for a play before he runs at Barbury Castle as its nice for the older horses to go out with no pressure and have a pop around. Thereís every type of fence you need to see, and itís so beautifully presented. I cannot big it up enough, and weíre lucky to have it on our doorstep.
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.
Our season starts this Saturday at Moreton in Dorset where we are taking two horses, if the weather behaves! Thereís plenty of rain forecast.
Bloomfield Tiger Two and Bonmahon Blue Mist are two super young horses that will both run in the novice prior to contesting the CIC*at Aldon, and then Tattersalls CCI*.
The Ladies Club own Bloomfield Tiger Two and they have such a great time when they come to events. Bonmahon Blue Mist is a horse I am particularly excited about. He progressed really nicely last season and heís come on this winter, having had plenty of showjumping practise.
Hopefully this season we will take off where we left it last season. Weíve been working hard all winter to keep the momentum going. Ros Morgan has been fantastic providing lots of help with the showjumping and Iíve continued my dressage training with Adam Kemp.
Weíve been using Pontispoolís new all-weather gallop to help with the horsesí fitness and itís been fantastic. Itís very versatile, it's gentle enough to introduce a young horse to galloping yet it has enough of a pull to get the advanced horses working. The surface is fantastic, the horses stay on top of it and seem really enjoy it.
Iíll have ten horses to event this season, which is a nice number to have without it all becoming stressful. Anymore, and it becomes really hard work. You start cutting corners, and it impacts on results. They are all very good horses that should be novice level or above by the middle of the season.
I rode nine horses this morning before a quick bite to eat and then an afternoon of shoeing but its nothing more than I am used to and it all helps with fitness.
Our routine on our yard is probably a little bit different to others as it revolves around my shoeing and there are some advantages and disadvantages being based where we are. Weíre really flat so we have to travel to to do hill work, but we are very close to the M5 which really helps with transport Within five minutes weíre on the motorway and on our way.
My two top two horses Redpath Ransom and Zagreb will start their eventing season at Aldon in the intermediate. Then they go to Belton and Burnham Market for the CIC3* before, fingers crossed, they go to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials which will be my first time competing there. Itís very exciting.
Tomorrow, they are both having their first outing since the autumn at the dressage regionals at Summerhouse. Theyíll be competing in the advanced medium and I think they will be very excited to be out, which might upset the dressage horses! But there will be lots of atmosphere, which is a great start to the season before we knuckle down to the serious stuff!
BE have confirmed our Horse Trials dates for 2017, which are:
Saturday 27th, Sunday 28th & Monday 29th May
Saturday 16th, Sunday 17th & Monday 18th September
We are very pleased to announce that NAF are kindly supporting our three Eventer Challenges in January and February 2017. They will be providing prizes for all classes.
NAF are passionate about both horses and the products they manufacture to keep them healthy, happy and performing at their very best. They offer an extensive range of products; from joints, breathing, hooves, digestion and calming supplements, to silky mane & tail detanglers, super shampoos and luxury leather care.
Please visit their website www.naf-uk.com for information on their products or contact the helpline on 0800 373 106.
Fifth at Pau in the CCI4* on Sunday with Zagreb was a great achievement, and although it was one hell of a drive to get there, it was worth it. I always believed we were good enough. All I had to do was prove it!
This was only our second four star competition, but having achieved a completion at Land Rover Burghley on Redpath Ranson, I knew I was capable and I felt that we deserved to be there. However, I was a lot more nervous than before Burghley as I desperately want to get Zagreb to Badminton in the spring, and we needed a four star completion to achieve this. The pressure was on!
Burghley had been my first experience of a four star where I rode Redpath Ransom and Zagreb. Iíve produced them from scratch and have also run their competition programmes along side each other, so to be riding two at a four star didnít seem too unusual, although with hindsight, it is quite an achievement.
Redpath Ransom completed, while Zagreb and I parted company when we didnít quite get to our point of take off and he chipped in a small stride which caused him to hit his leg on the fence shooting me out of the saddle. Getting him round clear was my priority. I knew he was capable, and Iíd proved I was at Burghley, but we needed it all to come together.
From start to finish it was a lovely experience. Simonne and I travelled there with a young event rider called Kate Honey and her team who were all so incredibly supportive. You do feel like a superstar when you ride at these events. Burghley felt extremely important and they couldnít give you enough. In France itís a little bit different, but there is a huge amount of buzz and support. It does make you feel very special and proud to be riding there.
At Pau every rider in the top ten had attained a championship level win. And then there was me, the part time farrier from Somerset, as the announcer kept calling over the tannoy.
I always knew Zagreb had a very good test in him, and weíd been working hard on making improvements and adjustments in the lead up to Pau, and then he was absolutely superb, producing the test of his life and throwing us to the top of the leader board. Our score was only topped by Michael Jung, but it was still good enough to win.
However, with a completion at the back of my mind, I didnít want to risk making any mistakes cross country, so where we could have taken strides out in a couple of places, and gained on the minute markers, I rode a calculated round. The ground was very changeable during the second half of the course, and unfortunately he pulled a shoe off on one of the down hill drops. With less grip, I couldnít risk him slipping and not making the turns so I rode with my head to make sure we came home clear.
When you are in with a chance, the excitement can get to you, but I have definitely matured in this area, going for the clear with time faults rather than taking the risks because the stakes were so high and that all important Badminton qualification the priority.
Zagreb was fantastic in the show jumping, coping with the atmosphere and the dazzle of the arena like an old pro to jump a beautiful clear.
He has come out of it really well. His legs are great, and he feels great in his body. Weíll wind him down with some light hacking for the next few days and then heíll have a few weeks off in the field. In the New Year weíll start our plans for Badminton in the spring.
Relatively speaking weíre still very naÔve and inexperienced at this level. But there is so much improvement to come and that is hugely exciting. The result at Pau was fantastic, but its whatís to come in the future that really excites us. This year we have developed so much in such a short time and the partnership we have is second to none. Itís something money canít buy. Our short-term aim is Badminton, but our ultimate goal is to ride on a British team.
You'll find results on our results and photos page.
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