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17th, 18th & 19th July 2009

Report by Kathryn Watterson

8am Friday and ‘M’ and I eventually get on the road for Ludlow. It took just under 2 hours to get to the racecourse venue, traffic was on our side and there were no delays on the A49.

Once we had parked up, dad and I went onto the yard to see where ‘M’s stable was, The England Team block was covered with bunting and each door had the individual team members name plate on it.

M’s stable was half way along the row and the cardboard bedding was deep and covered the floor, wall to wall.

It didn’t take ’M’ long to settle into her new environment and at 12 noon we attended a team welcome meeting and briefing headed by England chef Maggie Pattinson.

During the afternoon I spent my time sorting out and preparing for the weekend ahead.

At 3pm The Home International Teams had to vet, ‘M’ was not best pleased with this as the weather had turned nasty and it was pouring down, never the less ‘M’ vetted with a heart rate of 36 and practically dragged me back to the cosy stable block to get out the rain. The rain did not let up and due to the dismal conditions the parade was cancelled.

Later that evening Maggie gave a final team briefing and my place was confirmed for the 40km Novice event on the Sunday. Maggie also provided the well needed hot food which was washed down with a very welcome glass of red wine.

Saturday morning’s weather was a lot better with clear skies a light breeze. The day started early and after sorting ‘M’ out my role was to assist at the start/finish line and do regular checks on the team horses back at the stables. Dad and my partner Dave where crewing at CP1 and CP4. As the day progressed the sun came out and riders were returning home. All England team members where home safe with only one horse requiring the blacksmith. Following the team brief on Saturday evening a disco and a curry meal was provided by the event organiser Margaret Mckiddie. The room was buzzing with riders discussing the day’s events and how the ground was holding up after Friday’s rain.

I awoke on Sunday morning at 6am ‘M’ was waiting for me as I walked onto the yard to give her her breakfast. Following a good groom and the ‘Watterson’ team talk ‘M’ was tacked up and we made our way to the start line, it was a glorious morning with a good breeze. With members of the team and dad and Dave waving me off at the start, ‘M’ trotted at pace along the course turf track and over the railway crossing towards the major A49 junction.

‘M’ settled into a good rythmn fairing quickly and made progress through the woods towards CP1, ‘M’ had a needie apple and a neck wash and we left a few minutes later heading off up the pebble track towards CP2.

Point E we were met by England’s Equine Physio and other team members. ‘M’ had a good sponge off and some sugar beet water and we were off heading towards the common. The ground on the common was perfect with a slight incline towards CP4. ‘M’ was keen and cantered collectively towards the Marshall who was sitting under a large tree in the shade.

CP5 was reached with ease and ‘M’ was giving me a great ride. Dad and Dave met me at CP6 which was the final check point for my route before the final stretch towards the finish.

We made progress and got a second wind heading for home, we crossed the A49 again and along the outward route heading towards the railway crossing.

The route then took us along the back of the race course stands before a turn onto the track. At this point I had to slow my speed for the optimum time and as much as we wanted to canter across the finish line a sedate walk was the order of the day.

At the vetting 25 minutes later ‘M’ was given a heart rate of 41 and a pass.

Following ‘Ms’ return to the stable block and a well deserved haynet I returned to the finish to wave other riders in and to help crew. Despite our best efforts 2 of the team horses failed the vetting and another retired on the course.

Later that evening following a delayed final parade the final presentations began, ‘M’ and I had won the POLLY TROPHY for the top Home International novice and a grade 1. England gained a team 4th.

I would like to thank my Dad Edward and my partner Dave for their hard work and support and to the England Squad for a memorable weekend. Role on next year !!!!!!!!

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