Joe Whitaker won the ReadySupp Cup on Lavarno after a brilliant round yesterday afternoon at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). Here, he catches up with Your Horse to discuss his course tactics and warm-up.
Right from the word go, Joe had his work cut out for the ReadySupp Cup, with top riders all vying for the title.
Joe's time of 24.70 seconds on the nine-year-old bay mare Lavarno proved enough to edge out Frenchman Julien Epaillard, riding Tradition de la Roque.
"I went in competitively knowing I had to chase the time set by Julien Epaillard. He's a master of speed and was in the lead when I headed into the ring. It was really tough and I had to turn really tight into the last fence to make sure that I beat his time," Joe says.
So how does someone even prepare for such a huge class at one of the world's most famous competitions?
"I try to stay relaxed and stick to my plan in the warm-up," says Joe. "Then basically I cross everything and hope for the best!
"Riding up to the ring, I'm concentrating, thinking about my distances and options in how to ride the course. I go through my course-walk plan in my head up until the last minute."
Some riders wear their lucky pair of socks, pull down a certain stirrup before getting on, but Joe has a different tactic before he heads over the jumps.
"Michael Whitaker told me and Ellen years ago to always get off your horse before you jump in the ring and switch off. I usually go and get some water to drink and clear my head as much as I can. You just need to take yourself away from it all for a few minutes - it really helps!"
With the hype and the level of competition at events like HOYS, we think we'd need more than a glass of water to clear our heads!