We did it! My experience of the Mitsubishi Motors Cup

We catch up with Lucy and Boris who have had a very exciting few days at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup.

Well it’s all over now. What an amazing couple of days. We'll certainly be trying to qualify again for 2018.

Boris was a star. He was a little over-excited at times, but the slightly tense and nervous atmosphere emanating from the riders and supporters was noticeable. 

There were competitors from the North of Scotland, West of Ireland and from all over England.  The stables were spacious and Boris soon settled and made friends with his neighbours. 

A walk round the site on Monday afternoon gave him a chance to familiarise himself with the scary bits, which included a wind sock blowing strongly at the end of a runway -  yes there were one or two light aircraft landing and taking off by the stables!

Our first challenge - dressage

Our dressage was at 2.36pm on Tuesday so we had a long and tense wait in the morning. 

Boris had a morning walk and graze while watching some of the early dressage tests - everyone looked good. 

Eventually the time came to warm up - he settled well (didn’t spook at the flowers, something tht's always possible) and despite leaping forward when the steward closed the rope behind him as he entered the arena, he did a good test (29.5) that put us in equal 5th at the end of the first day. 

There were still 60 competitors to do their tests the following day.

Expert advice for our course walk

A course walk with Harry Meade was really interesting and helpful, although I had so many different ways to ride the combination fences, expertly put together by the Willis Bros, going round in my head I was relieved when Mark Boxall (our brilliant trainer) offered to drive up from Kent to walk the course with me on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday was Showjumping and Cross Country day. It was a much colder day with a strong easterly wind, but cooler is better for Boris’ breathing problems, so I breathed a slight sight of relief. 

The course walk with Mark was really helpful. He told me to ride all the direct routes and put me in a positive frame of mind. 

Heading into the ring

Our show jumping time was at 12.44pm. Boris was really feeling strong and ready for action and on entering the arena, he leapt sideways as the crowd cheered and clapped the previous competitor – he was very much on his toes!

It was difficult to get into a show jumping rhythm but he was picking his feet up well, until fence 8 – we met it wrong and a pole dropped. We cleared the last three fences, but managed to get two time faults. All very expensive in terms of scoring.  

To the cross country

The cross-country course at Badminton is built for the bold and accurate, this was the big test.   

A quick change of clothes, brushing boots, etc and straight to the cross-country warm up. 

Mark, my Mum (known as Boris’ granny/groom) and Dad (not very horsey) departed to their viewing areas.

We had a slight panic when Boris refused to go into the start box, but he was ready for the 5,4,3,2,1 GO – we were off, he was flying and it was a brilliant feeling.   

The obstacles were coming up fast, the first big test – the coffin – was cleared, the brush drop to two skinnies, the new arrow head to skinny cleared, the offset brushes cleared, into and out of the water with Badminton house in the background cleared, six to go, keep concentrating, the penultimate fence, a double of corners cleared and just the last...

He flew over it clear and we finished within the time. I leapt off gave him a big hug and burst into tears.

A long wait

The wait for the results was painful. With the six penalties in the show jumping we knew we'd blown our chances of coming anywhere near the top. 

The first time we looked at the scoreboard the worst we could come was 63rd out of 111; it then moved to 45; then 22 and eventually 18th place. 

A top 20 finish at the MMC is a prize-winning finish. We were over the moon!

A great experience at a very well organised event with helpful and efficient volunteers. It would be great to qualify for next year!

Read about Lucy's preparation for the event