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The diary of a Cornish Eventer – Badminton Part 1

Months of training and it’s all over in a whirlwind of a week! Literally had the best week ever, who needs a sunny holiday when you can say you’ve ridden at Badminton! The boyfriend may not agree but I’m still on cloud nine so who cares!!!

Being a bank holiday Monday, I was really worried that traffic on the A30 out of Cornwall was going to be a nightmare. We were very fortunate that leaving at 7am we missed it all. Cornwall’s typical way of saying good-bye was by tipping with rain until we hit the motorway. We stopped a couple of times on the way up to do a bit more food shopping and arrived at Badminton around 12 o’clock. We were one of the first, so the car and trailer was super close to the stables. It was obvious that they hadn’t had any of the rain we had on our journey up as the ground was dry. The stables were set up in a lovely format with all the Bedmax shavings neatly waiting to be used. I left Sprite to settle in her stable and have a doze while we put our living quarters up… a glorious tent!!

I was super eager to get out and have my first look at the cross country course, so once everything was organised we set off and had a walk around. First impressions of the course… they were pretty beefy (as expected), very technical asking lots of questions of horse and rider… but I was surprisingly not terrified! Scared definitely but not terrified.

I wasn’t riding until Wednesday so Sprite was just gently ridden Monday and Tuesday with lots of grass walks in between. A local BE accredited coach – Sarah Thorne – offered to walk the course with me Tuesday afternoon to answer any questions I may have. My parents also arrived that morning and I was shocked that mum agreed to come along, she never usually can look at the fences until after when she knows we’re home safe! Sarah was brilliant making me think of things that I never normally would. I also liked that she asked me why I was doing something – why are you taking that line? Or that approach? It was really good as it made sure I did understand my logic and not just doing it as a guess. I then dragged poor Chris out again later to walk the course for a 3rd time so I could double check and learn my minute markers… I drilled them in so much I can still remember them now!

That evening we went to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup welcome drinks taking place next to the famous lake. I was allowed to take one guest and asked my mum if she’d like to go. We had a lovely evening drinking Pimms and we met Mary and Emily King! I couldn’t resist asking for a photo with me and mum as we are also a Mary and Emily!!

B-DAY!! It was quite an early start on Wednesday but I was wide awake before my alarm even went off! Sprite had her breakfast and then enjoyed a pampering session from my top friend/groom/photographer Tina while I plaited her up. We were as ready as we were ever going to be! They were running early and it wasn’t long before the steward said I could go in! I tried my hardest not to panic and asked if I could wait for my time, which of course was absolutely fine so I remained calm. Trotting down that centre line all I could do was grin from ear to ear… we’re finally here doing it.. at Badminton!! Literally my dream come true! Sprite produced me such a lovely test that I still love watching back!


I had a long gap between dressage and Showjumping but I hadn’t yet walked the course as the BE100 was still up. Already dreading our worst phase I managed to get over for the first course walk and this was when I wanted to run and hide! The show jumps were HUGE!! The spreads were wide, the uprights were massive and my legs went like jelly!! Bless Tina trying to keep me calm telling me they were all fine. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy course but seriously I went straight to the portaloo after walking it!

The warm up was busy but I’m so lucky Sprite just gets on with it and ignores everyone else but me. We warmed up well, a couple down but nothing to worry about. I heard my number shouted and next minute I’m in the arena with everyone looking at me! I felt stupidly sick with nerves all I thought we were going to do was go sliding through the spreads. Fence 1, 2 and 3 were a bit of blur but Sprite was super keen taking it all on amazingly. Sprite flew all the spreads and waited for the uprights to come to us as I asked. It might sound silly but I know Sprite knew how important this round was to us, I could feel her trying her little socks off for me. Unfortunately we just tipped the very last fence, the second part of the double, but I couldn’t care less that was the BEST round we’ve ever done… it felt incredible!

The buzz from the show jumping made me super keen for the cross country and ready to give the course a good crack! It felt like we were in the warm up for ages (even though i wasn’t!) then it was our time. Sprite set off well flying fences 1 to 3, we then went down a big drop for 4a, turn and then a skinny. I can remember hearing Sprite catch the skinny and then fence 5 she stopped… twice. We managed to get over in on the 3rd attempt but she then stopped at the next. I didn’t know what to do whether to retire or attempt again (I knew I was eliminated already)… bless her she did go and jumped the next although needed a lot of encouragement. Fence 8 was the coffin and first proper combination on the course. Again Sprite didn’t want to go and that was it, my dream of completing didn’t happen but my one in a million pony obviously didn’t like the going and I respected her decision. I jumped straight off and leisurely strolled back with her and Chris.

Like us riders do, we analyse what went wrong and I am 99% sure she didn’t like the hard ground. Bless her she is 22 years old and her joints just can’t keep up with her incredible mind. She flew the first and I think after she dropped down at fence 4 she really felt how hard it was, this probably made her then touch the b element. As well adding that she had just put everything into the show jumping phase! Sprite has always had amazing self-preservation and will never get herself or I into trouble and I know to respect that. Of course it’s disappointing but I’d MUCH prefer taking her home in one piece. To be honest I was and still am beaming about our show jumping round!! The achievement of even getting there is amazing and I can’t thank Sprite enough for getting me to Olympia and now Badminton!!

After getting sprite settled we headed down to watch the 4* trot up followed by the Mitsubishi Motors Cup presentation, all taking place in front of the gorgeous Badminton House. Where, might I add, I saw Katie Hancock (from Cornwall!!!) take the BE100 for the 2nd year in the row… what an amazing achievement that is!! We all set off for food at a local pub, it was a lovely way to finish a lovely day!

Written by Emily Dunstan at EMD Eventing

Champion to Continue Support of Pony Club Pony Racing

Champion, have supported The Pony Club since 1990 and thanks to the sponsorship, Pony Club Members can take part in Race Days at some of the best known racecourses in the UK and, just like jockeys, they wear colourful silks, weigh in, weigh out and parade in The Paddock before the race; all adding to the exciting atmosphere and unique experience.

All Members taking part are awarded points towards the hotly contested Pony Club Champion Safety Wear Pony Racing Points Series, and the top three in each section of 128cm and under, 138cm and under or 148cm and under are invited to a presentation day where they will receive a certificate and a rosette; with the overall winner of each height section also receiving an engraved salver to mark their achievements.

Pony Club Chairman, Mary Tuckett, said: “We are thrilled to be continuing to work with Champion on the development of Pony Racing. Our Members benefit enormously from the wide knowledge that Champion bring; the partnership between The Pony Club and Champion is well established, and works well as we share so many of the same values and ideals.”

Sarah-Jane Fedarb, Managing Director at Champion, commented “We’re delighted to continue our sponsorship of Pony Club Pony Racing, and we are proud to have supported The Pony Club in this way for many years. The Race Days take place at racecourses around the country and provide a fantastic experience for budding young jockeys. As a family owned British business with a proud heritage of supplying the equestrian market with safe, reliable and well-made products, supporting the Pony Club Race Days and the jockeys of the future has always been a priority for Champion. Supporting the next generation is an important part of continuing with our legacy of safety.”


A total of six lucky winners will have the chance to take their horse to Lyneham Heath in Oxfordshire to attend a clinic with international event rider Kitty King. There will be two sections throughout the day with two winners attending each group. Whether you are just starting to introduce your horse to cross country obstacles or preparing to take the step up to intermediate level this will be an ideal opportunity to work with an experienced Team GB eventer and improve your performance.

Along with this fantastic prize the lucky winners will receive over £650.00 of products from the Champion Safety and Toggi clothing range, including:

Champion Ventair Deluxe Skull

Champion Ventair Cap Cover

Champion Ti22 Body Protector

Champion Plumpton Long Sleeve Cross Country Top

Toggi Abbington Ladies Waterproof Jacket

Toggi Duxbury Ladies Technical Fleece

Toggi Derby Ladies Full Seat Jodhpurs

Toggi Cartwright Long Riding Boots

Toggi Rockport Ladies Technical Riding Sock

Branded Saddle Cloth

To enter this fantastic competition simply answer the following questions as well as selecting the group you would like to ride in.

(Competition Ended)

Visit us at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials

Come along and join us on the Champion stand at Badminton Horse Trials this week in the World of the Horse pavilion. You can meet the team and get fitted with any of the Champion Safety Wear and take a cheeky selfie, using our selfie frame.

On Thursday at 1pm we are also offering you the opportunity to meet our brand ambassadors and International event riders Pippa Funnell, Piggy French and Kitty King.

We look forward to seeing you.

#Champion #BuiltonSafety