Kilteel, Co. Kildare
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Blog September 14th 2011

While Pardy was journeying across Europe, I took a couple of days off to meet up with my brother Johnny and sister-in-law Sally in Madrid city, where they had coincidentally just finished their cycling trip. I spent some nice time relaxing and seeing the sites, enjoyed some great Spanish food and just took some time out after the madness around the last few days in Ireland!

Pardy arrived safely in Madrid then on the Sunday following his long 3 day trip. Luckily the journey didn’t seem to take anything out of him and he was in great form getting off the truck. Sunday was spent settling him in and unpacking the substantial amount of gear; everything possible was brought to alleviate the intensity of the heat during the day so fans had to be set up, stable curtains to keep the sun out of the stables, along with rubber mats to prevent any knocks and scrapes… Every precaution for all the horses’ well-being out here is being taken by all the riders!

Monday was the last full day before the Championships got underway. I worked Pardy in the morning time while it was still nice and cool, and brought him for a hack later in the afternoon to show him around and familiarise him with the arena. The facilities out here are fabulous; the jumping ring is spectacular, the new sand surface gives perfect jumping conditions and the shady wooded grounds of the country club really give a great atmosphere to the show. Of course the lovely sunny days all add to the experience too, especially after hearing about the recent Irish weather!

The veterinary inspection, or ‘trot up’, took place yesterday. This is where all the horses are presented to the show vets and are inspected to ensure they are fit to compete. The Irish horses all passed with flying colours, and shortly after they all jumped around the warm-up class in the main arena. In this class each rider is given 90 seconds in the arena, and they may jump the track of fences if they wish or simply have a canter around to allow their horses to get used to the ring. Each rider has a different plan for their horse, and with Pardy I went in and jumped a few of the fences and used the rest of the time to show him around. He was jumping out of his skin, and really feels in great form!

Following the class, a team meeting took place where Robert confirmed his selection for the four riders to jump in the Championship- sticking to his original plan, and barring any last-minute upsets tomorrow, these will be the same as last month’s Aga Khan team:  Shane Sweetnam, myself, Denis Lynch and anchorman Billy Twomey. Yesterday evening saw the draw take place for today’s speed class. This class will be scored in Table C format, meaning adding seconds to your overall time for each fence knocked down as opposed to penalties. The scores from the best three riders in each team will then be added up to determine the starting order for the first round of the teams the tomorrow, which is also my birthday… So here’s hoping for a great birthday present this year!

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