A test of my love of volunteering – that’s what a 4am alarm call is!
But I love it, so the duvet covers were swiftly thrown back and in the shower I hopped. Funny, I don’t get out of bed with this much spring in my step on a drizzly Monday morning?!
Hartpury is favourite of mine. I know I say that about them all, but it really is. Hartpury could in theory run two days of cross country, but they manage to squeeze it all into one day. And that’s why I love it – from 8.30am till 6.30pm (and beyond) you get nearly 200 horses fly by your beautifully constructed fence. What’s not to love?!
Pulling into the car park before 7am, I see all the usual faces all streaming into the grand Georgian building that is Hartpury House. We are met by their wonderful hospitality staff, cup of tea and bacon roll in hand, we are march single file into one of the college’s lecture rooms. To be greeted by the humorous Dave Thompson and steward Becky. On with the sponsors polo shirts and off we went.
Lots had been published about Eric Winter’s changes to the course and JACKPOT we were gifted the new Hartpury House and Gardens combination that Eric had built around the Garden wall. But that meant we were in charge of the beautiful manicured lawn and ancient garden wall – please be careful horses we all hoped.
Hartpury’s entries never disappoint. I am genuinely happy to watch BE80T competitors, but there is something equally as wonderful to watch the WEG hopefuls fly past too.
Hairy moments seem to be becoming a recent theme and this weekend was no exception – Please if there are any spectators reading this, I don’t blow my whistle for the fun of it (although it is fun) it generally means your casual stroll is about to be interrupted by half a tonne of horse so do pick up the pace and hurry out of the way. Drama averted, now time for a unicorn cake or two…
Our blissful heatwave was rather rudely interrupted Saturday afternoon with raindrops, lots of them. How rude, I still have a tan to work on. Thank goodness for waterproofs. A fence judge always has about ten layers of clothing in their car.
One of my fence judge colleagues decided to give Billy The Red a run for his money and try and leap the wall ditch, as you can imagine it didn’t end very prettily. Note to all, leave the jumping to the equines. Nothing a few days rest and a couple of paracetamol won’t cure.
After ten hours, we left our fence, the manicured lawn and the ancient wall all intact, phew.
Chatter all day had focused around each WEG hopeful jumping clear of our fence and the journey home gave more time for speculation about ‘the five’ – all I’ll say after Tuesday’s announcement is I got 2 out of 5 correct, but then I mistakenly guessed World No. 1 and the No. 1 BE ranked horse were worthy of a place, how wrong was I?!
Now it’s time to charge the camera batteries and onwards to Blair for a highland fling, then Burghley and Blenheim – I love this time of year – there’s still a tinge of what might have been at WEG, but given they are banning drinks bottles on course at the moment, I think I chose correctly. I shall watch with friends and cheer on Team GB from the big screen at Blenheim – see you all there.
And remember for those who saw us at Hartpury and thought how did those jammy so-and-so’s end up that side of the string, just contact your local event and say I’d like to volunteer – they’ll welcome you gladly. (Don’t worry not many events require a 4am alarm call)