June was an eventful month for us all. With Badminton being cancelled, Clifton Lush was then targeted at Bramham. Unfortunately, he came down with a virus just before the event and had to have a very light week. We still got there, but were unprepared and decided not to have a real crack at the cross country, but instead re-target him at Barbury Castle three weeks later.
In the mean time we had a couple of little events. Bulletproof went to the Nunney International Horse Trials and jumped a nice double clear in preparation for Aachen. The week after was Salperton, which is a great preparation event. We took Clifton Promise for his final run before the Olympics, Lush as a lead up event before Barbury, and Bulletproof as a lead up event for Aachen in Germany All three horses did good dressage tests, especially Lush who scored a 27 to put him into second at the end of the phase. All three also jumped nice double clears in cross country too.
On to Barbury, where there was a very competitive three star class, attracting 110 entries, many of whom were trying to impress before the Olympics. Lush was now well over his virus and feeling better than he ever has! We pulled out a personal best to score a 42.6 in the dressage, which had us in second place overnight, behind fellow Kiwi Andrew Nicholson, and Mark Todd in fifth place. The next day we jumped clear in the showjumping which put the Kiwi trio into the top three spots. Andrew was leading, Lush and I second and Mark third. I felt Lush had jumped his best round ever and was feeling on form!
The next day was cross country day, and time to take off the handbrake.. We set off at high speed and Lush was happy to be there, jumping well and making it feel easy. We got just under half way around to the first water - it was a wooden crocodile placed in the middle of a dew pond which I had already jumped a couple of times on my other horses. It didn't ride very well but wasn't a difficult fence. As we jumped into the water I never felt Lush lock onto it, and as we were travelling quite fast I don't think he had enough time to read the jump properly. He decided to put down in front of it and left a leg on the crocodile, which fired me out and gave me a mud bath - definitely a big surprise! It wasn't a particularly difficult track, but that was just one of those things that happens. Maybe if we had something a little more substantial to jump, we might have been alright as I probably would have gave it a bit more respect.
It was a real shame for Lush as he was feeling great and deserved a good run. Both of us came out unscathed. It's never the way you like to do your final selection event, but I seem to be making a bit of a habit of it as Promise and I also took a swim at the final selection event for the World Champs in 2010.
It is important to taste the dirt every now and then and it reminds you never want to be too complacent!
On the up side of things though, it was a fantastic weekend for Andrew who finished first and second in the CIC3*.
I am now back home for two days before we leave for Aachen with Bulletproof. This is a big step up for him but I feel he is the horse for the job. We hope it to be a good educational experience for him and I'm sure I will learn more about him as this is the World Equestrian Festival and there is a lot for the horses to take in. It is a big event with an atmosphere to match.
Well - today is the day we find out if we are selected for the London Olympics.....fingers crossed!