Windsor is the most lovely show, with probably one of the most lovely all-weather rings in Europe. It's popularity is well demonstrated by the fact that the National Jumping Classes are 100% oversubscribed which is very sad, as really everyone should get a chance to jump at such an iconic show. This year a ballot system was used, and I am not sure whether this was actually fairer than the previous system of first come - first served. I was lucky enough to get Emma into the A & B jumping and Kvint into both B & C classes. Sadly, Marine and Emie didn't manage to get in, but it was great to see Marine on the course-building team, very busily rushing around putting up fences that were bigger than her.
I had a good lesson with Shane on the Monday to make sure we were totally confident. Both horses jumped really well and Kvint jumped some enormous fences, and I got a good squaring up for my riding on Emma, so we were as ready as we would ever be.
Because Kvint will not stay in the lorry on his own Sian Meehan joined Steff and I on Wednesday and had the unenviable task of looking after Kvint while I jumped Emma. I was early to go in the class which is a little bit of a mission as Windsor is a show with serious walking between the lorries and the rings. Emma warmed up really well and jumped a fabulous round. She had two fences in a very fast jump-off round which was a pity as there were only four double clears so we could have afforded to be fairly steady. She finished 12th which was a great improvement on last year, and if I couldn't win myself then it was definitely the next best thing to watch Georgia defend her 2017 win - this time on Z7 Qamar.
We had a fairly long wait before Kvint jumped in the B section of the B&C jumping. This was quite an ask for him as it was the first time he went straight into a 1.35. He jumped very well, just having a couple of early fences where perhaps the height took him by surprise, but I was very pleased with him, and I took the decision to bring him back the next day.
On Thursday I fed the horses at 3.30 to leave at 5.00 for Kvint to jump in the B&C at 8.00. I thought the course was much easier for him and only 1.30 which would make a big difference. He jumped a really nice round, just having four faults, which kept him out of the jump-off. However, he didn't feel his usual bouncy, brave self the whole way round, and I think that standing on the lorry for 10 hours on Wednesday and his 3.30 start on Thursday maybe took a bit of a toll on his energy. It was great experience for him however, and I hope this will stand him in good stead for Bicton next weekend.
As always many thanks to everyone who makes it possible for me to compete at this level. Without Shane Breen's help and the confidence he gives me I would still be jumping 1.10 rather badly, and without the help of Steff, Camilla and in this case Sian, I would be challenged to get anywhere. Saracen have been feeding the horses for nearly 20 years now, and I have complete confidence that they are always feeling their best, and I love my MacWet Gloves.
Tracy Priest very kindly asked Mark and I to join her on her table on Sunday, so we watched the 5* classes in splendid comfort and had the most delicious lunch.