Well we thought Bolesworth was muddy! The first day at Hickstead was actually fine and Steff Gibbs and I trundled off with Doonaveeragh Emma, Benny and Catokyo at about 10.00. Culana Z has knocked herself and is on the easy list at the moment. My first class was with Catokyo in the 1m class on the all-weather. She warmed up really well and jumped nicely round. I then jumped Emma in the 1.35 in ring 2. The course didn't walk too big and the ground didn't seem too soft, but Emma likes to bang the ground in front of the fence and she was certainly caught out by the slightly dead ground and knocked the first two fences, she jumped the third fence quite greenly and then got the hand of it and jumped very well. Benny jumped in the 1.25 in the all-weather and jumped very well.
It then absolutely poured on Wednesday night and so I decided not to jump Emma on the grass again, just jumping Catokyo in the 1m on Thursday and on Friday I jumped Benny and Emma in the 1.25 and Catokyo in the 1m in the all-weather. Having got up at 5.00 it was very satisfactory to jump three double clears, and Emma was placed in a very speedy class. I was particularly pleased with Benny's round as I felt I was really getting the hang of him. Steff and I managed to watch the very end of the Derby Trial and the whole of the Master's Challenge in the main ring.
On Saturday I just took Catokyo to Hickstead to jump our first Newcomers. She jumped really well just having a lapse of concentration at the end of the first round. She was a very good girl all week and I am really looking forward to taking her to Keysoe with Benny and Emma next week.
Steff and I took Catokyo home and Mark and I then went back to Hickstead to watch the speed Derby. What a fabulous class and it was lovely to see Harriet Nuttall have such a well deserved win. Even after the torrential rain little Silver Lift was foot perfect and speedy. On Sunday morning Mark and I hacked out Benny and Emma and then it was back to Hickstead to support Shane's pupils in the Young Riders final and to watch the Derby itself. What a fantastic class: Richard Howley set the crowd alight from the beginning with only four faults, Harriet so nearly scored the double when she just touched the last fence and William Whitaker had a very long wait with his one time fault before his win was confirmed. It really couldn't happen to a nicer, more charming or hard working guy - so very many congratulations to William.
Also very many congratulations to the Hickstead Team. The weather conditions were unbelievable and even the cars had to be towed on and off on Sunday and still there was a sense of calm all around and the show was better than ever with fantastic new horse walks to try to keep the horses and public safe from one another.
Steff Gibbs was a fantastic help. Hickstead is a tough show with early mornings and lots of walking even when it isn't muddy and it is invaluable having someone to help monitor exactly what is going on in the ring and help with the practice fence, and save me the odd trip back to the lorry. The horses are always immaculate and happy and I know I ride better when I feel well organised.