Our 2016 Mitsubishi Motors Cup blogger, Sophie Hall – who finished in 12th place last year, is back to update on her journey this year and to share some of her top tips for those heading to Badminton for the first time.
Firstly can I say I cannot believe we are here again this year! Being a part of the 2016 Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton was beyond my wildest dreams so to be here again this year is insane.
The organisation and commitment of everyone involved in the Mitsubishi Motors Cup is truly exceptional and you are made to feel very special. Even before you arrive when the envelope comes through the post with all the tickets, car/lorry stickers, VIP party invitations etc. it is all sooo exciting! My family and I have promised ourselves that we will make sure we enjoy every single minute this year as there is just so much to take in.
The course walks with our idols are a total must. You receive so much information which is invaluable but do not forget you know your horse better than anyone so keep that in mind. Attending the Drinks Party by the Lake with Emily and Mary King is also just incredible in such a beautiful setting. To think you will be riding on the hallowed Badminton turf and through the Lake is awesome.
Even when you feel overawed by the other beautiful horses, stay focussed and realise how well you have done to have got to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup. You are one of 190 finalists from over 6,000 competitors nationwide!
Tips I have taken from last year are making sure you let your horse eat the grass in your stable before putting the bed down. If you can fit in a bike that is a great help as the secretary’s tent is some distance from the stables as is the cross country.
2016 was certainly an amazing year for me and little Gus. It was my final year at Durham University and juggling revision for my final exams only a week later and Badminton was quite scary to say the least but I was fortunate and got my degree thank the Lord!
I am having a year at home with my beloved Gus and his best friend George before heading off to London to work at the end of the year. Thanks must go to my mum and dad for supporting me with this amazing gift of time. To know that we had qualified for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup 2017 and having the time at home to prepare has been fantastic.
I wanted to make the absolute most of my time with Gus and decided to enter the Bedmax Young Rider Scholarship 2017 competition. I could not believe it when I was invited to the final interviews in Nottingham. Olympic eventing legend Karen Dixon was one of the panel which was amazing. I received a phone call from Matt Smalley some days later to say I had been successful – I was the 2017 Bedmax Young Rider Scholar! I am now fully in swing with my monthly Bedmax Blogs and will be representing the company at their stand at Badminton which is brilliant. Please come and say hello if you are there. I cannot rate the Bedmax product highly enough for the optimum health and happiness of the horse so if you haven’t tried it already definitely consider it!
My other main focus is my involvement with the British Student Riders. I was lucky enough to ride for Britain twice last year gaining two gold and a silver medal in Romania and Ireland Student Riders Nations Cups. I never expected it and am so grateful to have made life long friends as a result of it. Later in the year I was asked if I would consider taking over the role of Chairman which I am delighted to be doing. We are a voluntary organisation and I am involved in lots of fundraising, selection training sessions and team selections as well as organising the next British Student Riders Nations Cup.
So as you can see being at home is still incredibly busy!
Gus and I achieved a 29 double clear last year and 12th place so we have an awful lot to live up to. We have been working hard on our dressage with our wonderful dressage trainer Diane Breeze. We have also been to Aston Le Walls for a couple of days training with the amazing Nigel and Anne Taylor. They are always an inspiration and the facilities at Aston are perfect when trying to get cross country training during the awful winter months. We are working hard on our show jumping and JP Daker at Bow House Farm Equestrian has been a star.
We have had one run at the British Eventing Swalcliffe Park a couple of weeks ago which was great fun and a really lovely venue. We had not been there before but I would definitely recommend it. For March the ground was great and the hilly cross country was a fab test of fitness. We were thrilled to get the best dressage but had a nasty slip in the show jumping resulting in a costly eight faults. Gus was very happy to be going cross country again and was his usual speedy self. Altogether a good day out.
We are doing a British Dressage Combined Training Competition this weekend which we are looking forward to and our last run before we head off to Badminton will be at Kelsall Hill at the end of the month.
With all this lovely weather we have been fortunate to have had this year we are making the most of nice long hacks and I am dog walking up and down the Shropshire Hills to help ensure I am fit enough for that long 7 minute cross country course!
Having said that I am off to Belgium with the Student Riders next week which will always be a serious party – come on Great Britain!
Wishing everyone a wonderful build up to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup which is fast approaching!