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Alex Bragg's Latest Blog

2017 was a great year for Team Bragg Eventing Ė although not without the inevitable ups and downs you get in this amazing sport that I love so much.

After the absolutely thrilling highs of the first couple of days at our first Badminton where Zagreb and I were lying in eighth position overnight after the cross-country, we then had the crashing disappointment of being sent to the holding box in the trot up on the Sunday morning and then withdrawn because of a bump to his stifle. Thatís the rub of the green though, and we went home obviously disappointed, but glad that our boy was in one piece and had learnt valuable lessons for the next time we happen to be in that gorgeous corner of Gloucestershire.

In July, we had some great fun and even WON the Lavazza Prize for the Combined Jumping, Eventing and Driving Competition aka the ĎRide and drive courseí in the main arena at the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen in Germany. First the riders jumped a course appropriate to their discipline before they left their horses and ran to the four-horse carriages to take them full speed for another round in the arena.

The atmosphere in the stadium was electrifying Ė basically we were in an arena the same size as a football stadium with 40,000 people screaming and cheering us on. It was quite nerve-wracking if Iím totally honest, and to settle the nerves I tend to start joking around, so I was giving a few fist pumps to get the crowd cheering some more, then the nerves went and I was having a blast as was Redpath Ransom.

I like to have a little bit of a spark and sense of humour around everything I do Ė it is a serious business, but you need to be able to laugh about things and enjoy life. I think our sport, when youíre not on a horse, can sometimes be a little monotone and boring, maybe not so much boring, but serious Ė after all it is one of the most dangerous sports you can do. Formula One motor racing drivers have cars built around them for protection. Event riders are just perched there on their horses with trust and skill holding them together Ė living on the edge with the adrenalin buzz feeding through your veins, thatís why we do it and love it so much. That buzz is addictive.

My ultimate aim for 2018 is to get to the World Equestrian Games at Tryon in North Carolina, USA in September (11-23). Whilst I would really love to go, Badminton is Ė and has to be - my first goal of the season. Every eventing season, like so many things, is like a big jigsaw puzzle Ė you have to get the first part in place if you want to have a chance of completing the puzzle. In fact, my main aim is to win as many competitions as I can, because Iím not at ALL competitive! Obviously itís not that simple, but yes, Badminton is my first big goal and it will be very competitive, which suits me.

This year we will be aiming to do as well or better and then see what happens with the selection for WEG.

Once the season finished in October all the horses had a good long break from work, and have now systematically come off their breaks in December and January so that theyíre now all back in work. Theyíre doing a few dressage and show jumping competitions as gentle warm-ups, and of course I love that we have the perfect facilities at Pontispool to use for all our cross-country schooling needs. Weíll also be concentrating soon on more fitness work so will be using the gallops for real from mid-February to get fit for Badminton.

Iíll give you another update towards the end of February to let you know how our preparation is going. In the meantime, letís hope this rain eases off sometime soon.

Prizes for our Unaffiliated Horse Trials in March

We are delighted to announce that Treehouse Sporting Colours, Connolly's Red Mills and NAF are all kindly supporting our Unaffiliated Horse Trials on 24th March 2018. They will be providing prizes from 1st to 3rd for all sections.

Body protectors, air jackets, cross country colours, horse racing silks, riding hats.

A personal and bespoke service specialising in equestrian safety wear, racing and cross country colours.

Treehouse are equestrian enthusiasts, the team offer an expert, qualified and personal service to all.

[email protected]

Phone: +44 (0)1299 851625

Top event riders, trainers and breeders choose Connolly's RED MILLS.

Connollyís RED MILLS is quite literally the feed of champions.Their horse feed formulations provide all the nutrition high performance animals demand, using the finest of fresh, natural ingredients to support digestion, wellbeing and performance.

You can be confident you are feeding a fully balanced diet, perfectly tailored by our expert nutritionists, to deliver all your horse's dietary needs.They work closely with vets and research departments of leading universities to bring the latest nutritional technology to their products, and to you.

[email protected]

Adam Johnson, Equine Sales Rep - South West of England Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 07860 771 063


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.

[email protected]

Helpline: 0800 373 106

NAF Kindly Supporting Eventer Challenges and ODE

We are very pleased to announce that NAF are kindly supporting our Eventer Challenges on 14th January and 24th February as well as our Unaffiliated ODE on 24th March 2018. 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 for information on their products or contact the helpline on 0800 373 106.

BE Horse Trials Dates 2018

Our British Eventing Horse Trials dates for 2018 have been confirmed and we are running on:

Saturday 26th, Sunday 27th & Monday 28th May.

Saturday 15th, Sunday 16th & Monday 17th September.

Put the dates in your diary!

Sponsored Rider - Alex Bragg's latest blog!

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.



Dogs to be kept on leads at ALL times when using Pontispool facilities. This includes course walking before competitions.

If any dogs are found off a lead, owners will be fined £10, which will be donated to the air ambulance.

Sponsored Rider - Alex Bragg's latest Blog!

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.

Sponsored Rider - Alex Bragg's latest blog!

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.

Alex Bragg's Blog

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!

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