This year’s event took place at the Royal Welsh Showground at Builth Wells in central Wales over a challenging hilly course. Five of us had qualified but only three horses were fit & experienced enough to go & defend the second place we gained last year. These were myself & Zhiwah, Jane Wyatt & Magners Gold & Jean Spearing & Sweet Solitaire.
We had been promised wonderful views but woke to a thick, cold blanket of mist that obscured everything beyond the showground perimeter. Having all passed the preliminary vetting we set off hoping that we would at least be able to see the route markers & avoid getting lost. However as we climbed the first steep hill a faint glimmer of sun appeared that gradually became brighter as we reached the summit. Then we were literally above the clouds in glorious sunshine which continued throughout the day & the views did not disappoint. The ride was marvellous but gruelling, taking in grassy but slippery mountain tops, boggy tracks through bracken & steep stony paths. In the course of just over 20 miles we ascended & descended three mountains & our horses still managed to achieve a very respectable speed of over 12 kph.
Back at the showground we prepared for the all important final vetting where unfortunately Soli was deemed to be footsore & was eliminated thus putting an end to our hopes of team success. However there was individual glory for Jane as Magners Gold took the Top Horse Award.