In the run up to The Festival of British Eventing, presented by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA), at Gatcombe Park, Eventing Worldwide is following Melissa Joannides who will be competing on Sue Bunn’s Brighton Rock II in the new Restricted Novice Championship – The TopSpec Challenge for the Corinthian Cup. In this blog she tells how her preparations for the event have been going……
“Less than two weeks and counting to the new Novice Restricted Championship at the Festival of British Eventing and Brighton Rock II (Elvis) and I are lucky enough to be going! We qualified back in April at South of England, where we finished 3rd.
The whole team at MJEventing are super excited and preparations have been well underway. This week Elvis and I are practising our show jumping at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead, where I am based. We are competing in the Newcomer and Foxhunter classes; I like to jump bigger than I do eventing so when I go eventing I am not overwhelmed by the size of the courses. The tracks are long and testing so it is a great way for us to tune up our show jumping… even if we do stick out like a sore thumb amongst the show jumpers!
To keep Elvis as level – headed as possible, I try to get him out in the field as much as possible. It is great to be able to put him out each day after he has jumped so he stays relaxed. Since qualifying, I have been practising for the dressage test which is to be in a long arena. Fortunately, the dressage arenas at Hickstead are long, so I have been hacking over and having some lessons with my mum who is a super coach/groom/mum!
Elvis is in tip top condition and after competing at the notoriously ‘hilly’ tracks at Brightling and Eridge, he is at peak fitness. He is a huge thoroughbred and having been eventing regularly I will not do any extra fitness work than I usually do. For him, routine is key so I will be reluctant to change any preparation tactics from what we normally do for an event. This includes riding him every other day, rather than every day so he does not become stressed in his work.
I am very much looking forward to competing alongside some of the best event riders in the world at Gatcombe and being able to watch how they ride and what they do with their horses when staying at overnight competitions. Riding at Gatcombe was one of my aims this year so to do so at the Festival fills me with huge excitement. I am very much up for the challenge!
The text came through from Gatcombe on Tuesday to let me know I am in section C, No. 236. Dressage starts at 1.30pm Friday so my Mum, Elvis’ owner Sue Bunn, my boyfriend, good friend Jackie and I will be travelling up on Friday morning. It will be lovely to meet up with fellow competitors and also Bridget and Martin Lyne, who own another event horse that I ride called Skip. They have another horse in the Intermediate championship who is ridden by Izzy Taylor (I will be watching and taking many notes!).
Qualifying for the Novice Restricted Championship is the biggest achievement Elvis and I have achieved together, so I am going with that in mind and to enjoy the whole experience. It is a fantastic chance to compete on such a huge stage amongst the likes of Olympic riders and that is one of the most exciting prospects!
Make sure you follow Eventing Worldwide to keep up to date with Melissa and Elvis’ progress
throughout the competition.