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23rd May 2009

Report by Rachel Rolfe

Rachel with Selasphorus (Seb) warming up before the start
Rachel with Selasphorus (Seb) warming up before the start

160km in a day

The plan for 2009 was to attempt a 160km ER in a day. Selasphorus ( Seb ) and I had already come 3rd in the 80km ER at Haywood Oaks in April at a speed of 17.9 k/h. Seb had previously completed a couple of 100kms and also a 2 day 160km at Red Dragon so with all this in mind I decided he was ready to try a 160km in a day. The crew out on course consisted of my son Chris and his girlfriend Vanessa. I also had a crew who remained at the Vet Gate (VG) and this was Sue and Cliff Evans. They totally spoilt us both with a wide selection of food and drink every time we came into a VG. I did manage to resist a huge slice of Sues home made cake until VG5 which was a big achievement with my love of all things sweet!! Chris and Vanessa never failed to meet us even at the most awkward of places where most other crews did not have the time to get to so important to the rider when the going gets tough and tiring.

The ER started at 6am. The sun was up and after warming up well we all set off quietly from the beautiful grounds of Thoresby Hall. Before we knew it we had travelled 32kms through mainly forestry tracks and open fields which included a very wide water crossing and were back at the first VG. We quickly presented with heart rates (HRs) of 60/56 on the Ridgeway test. Seb and I had previously met up with Lesley Dore and her lovely chestnut arab Firebird. The 2 horses went well together even if Seb did always insist on being in front but Firebird was happy with this and we rode together to VG2 where we again presented quickly with good HRs and As and oness for metabolics. Firebird was presenting at the same time as us so we rode together to VG3 and VG4 with the same thing happening and each horse passing the compulsory represents 10 minutes before leaving both VGs. We heard that many of the horses in the FEI class which started 30mins before us had been spun so we decided to take it steady as the Vets were being extremely strict. On to VG5 at 145kms where Seb and Firebird again presented together and both passed. There were 4 of us left in the class by now and the 2 leaders set off at a faster pace from the last VG. We left VG5 at a good speed with Seb still keen to go and ears pricked although he did wonder why I was asking him to go past his coral, bed and food for the 6th time!! Unfortunately the horse that crossed the finish line first failed at the final vetting leaving just 3 of us in. A little grey arab from Scotland remained ahead of us and had looked good all day justifying her win. After another 16kms we finally saw the finish about half a mile ahead of us. Seb sensed that this was the last time he would cross the steep little bridge and 2 fields that would bring us home and was urged on by the cheers from everyone at the finish. His head came up and he began to dance in all directions determined to give Firebird a race to the finish. We crossed the line with Sebs nose just in front taking 2nd place and Firebird 3rd. Both horses were in great shape at the final vetting with Sebs heart rate 56 and all As and oness for metabolics and gait. I couldnt have asked for a better end to a wonderful day but none of it would have been possible without my fantastic horse and of course the best crew in the world a very big thank you to you all.

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