Badminton trot up – Alfie passed

Bill Levett and Shannondale Titan

Bill Levett and Shannondale Titan

It’s been a blustery day here at Badminton with high winds and heavy showers from time to time. The focus has been on the trot up this afternoon, the first hurdle to overcome and ahead of the trot up the first chance to see the 2015 cross country course in the flesh so to speak.

In short I like the course this year, I think it is a very fair test – don’t get me wrong it is still very much a four star test but I think if ridden well it is very jumpable and I’m looking forward to riding it. The ground is currently near perfect and if it stays as is it will be fast ground to ride on. More to come on the course as I digest it in more detail – I’ve only had one walk around and will have a further three or four trips round it plus watch some riders go at questions I’m particularly concerned about ahead of my time on Saturday.

Back to the trot up – which Alfie as expected and planned (!!!) flew through with flying colours – it’s a big ‘stage’ for horses to walk out in to with large crowds, a big bank of photographers at one end and this year high blustery winds and lots of ‘flapping’ things, be it the ground jury papers, the sponsor flowers (thankfully removed before the horses started to trot) etc.

I was pleased that Alfie had had a ‘taster’ of the trot up atmosphere here at Badminton last year – as last year he was quite overwhelmed at the first trot up and had his eyes out on stalks but also went very ‘introvert’ and quiet to trot up and so everyone didn’t get to see his trademark float down the strip.

This year Alfie was more relaxed and he had much more of a ‘look at me’ sense about him as he went down the trot up strip, with me running as fast as possible to keep up with him while trying to look elegant and not fall over my own feet!

Alfie looked a picture thanks to the hard work of my team without whom none of this would happen – led by Emily, assisted by Poppy, supported by Laura, Harriet, Christena, Nick, Spike, Maggie, Annabel, Anna and Kiri. I also thought I looked a picture but I have already made one slight blunder by putting on the wrong pair of trousers to go with my jacket – so if you see pictures of me and Alfie try to visualise blue trousers in the snaps!

I still think I looked pretty dapper, even though I say so myself – a long way from the Australian cowboy that first took up eventing many years ago… although I still get to wear my RM Williams boots, belt, trousers and jacket just as I did at my first ever Australian trot ups. I’ve just been given a flourish of the United Kingdom driven by wifey (Jenny) with some great tweed jackets (along with RM Williams kit) supplied by A Hume Country Clothing based in Scotland.

So gutted for Matt (Heath) who didn’t make it through the first trot up – that I think is almost the toughest juncture at which to go out as you’ve put in all the hard graft and then, for whatever reason on the day, it’s just not meant to be – that’s horses for you, one minute you are up and all is going well and the next you can be right back down eating the dirt. Enough of this – just sad for Matt, and those who also had to withdraw last minute, especially Mike Jackson who fractured a bone in his leg and so couldn’t make it despite having a fit and sound horse in the barn.

Tomorrow is all about course walking and dressage preparation for me – ahead of my test on Friday morning.



Posted 6th May


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