Suzanne and Rachel (and their trusty grooms/mechanics/co-drivers/catering chiefs/critics/engineering experts and general super-men) enjoyed a pleasant trip to the AIRC national eventing championships at Annaharvey Equestrian Centre. The road to Geashill is top class the whole way, making for a lovely smooth run, and the welcome at Ballycrystal Stud where the Lacy family offer stabling for Annaharvey events, was as warm as you’ll get anywhere. The discovery of a bent trailer axle was rapidly dealt with by the support team…Ballycrystal supplying timber, screws and a screw-driver…while the ladies headed off to walk their xc course and collect dinner for the team. Sleep was had (by some) and the Sunday morning saw the Donegal horses plaited and primped before heading the five miles up the road to Annaharvey.
As a venue Annaharvey offers pretty reliable going, with a lot of the xc course upgraded to an all-weather gravel track to allow for inclement weather. Any grass stretches bore a strong resemblance to concrete and studs were definitely a necessity rather than a fashion accessory, even for the sedate paces achieved in the dressage arena. Suzanne was delighted with a relaxed Jimmy Mac (aka Dubai Flyer) supplying her with a personal best score between the white boards. Rachel and Merlin rode a nice test also and were lying in fourth place after the dressage element. The ladies success in the dressage is largely down to Mary Devines tough coaching on the preceding Wednesday, when both riders were put through their paces at Rachel’s arena. Rachel’s dressage test was caught on camera by one of the back-up team.
The showjumping phase of the one-day-event was extremely challenging, with the slight undulations of the arena catching out a lot of horse and rider combinations, resulting in very few clear rounds on the day in any class. Suzanne steered Jimmy around in respectable fashion, finishing with two poles (but no riders) on the ground. Rachel made the crucial mistake of interfering with Merlin, who would have jumped round clear with his eyes closed if left alone, and ended up with one jump down. Rachel’s showjumping round was also captured on video by one of the support team but it’s waaaaay too embarrassing to upload so you’ll have to take our word for it that it was disgraceful!! However with neither rider eliminated in the showjumping it was onwards and upwards to the xc.
Suzanne and Dubai Flyer were going from strength to strength as the day progressed and the pair took the xc course in their stride, finishing with some time faults but clear jumping. The smile on Suzanne’s face as she galloped over the line was enough to encourage Rachel as she headed out on the (n)ever brave Merlin. Merlin took the first two jumps at his usual hesitant pace but got into his stride after the river crossing and was one of just four horses to finish without time faults over the galloping course. The team camera man had a good strategic spot from which to see most of the course and filmed both riders as they finished. Suzanne took the correct course. Rachel did not! Those with decent sound on their video playback will hear the moment Rachel realised she was jumping the Open/Advanced-Open option at number 17. The only small consolation was that the disgraceful showjumping round had already ruled the Rachel&Merlin combo out of the ribbons. Both riders and horses left Annaharvey having thoroughly enjoyed the experience and keen for the next outing. (not so sure about the support teams feelings)