Competition News - 2001
This page contains brief accounts of our 2001 competitions
(from 24th June)
09 December 2001 Indoor event at Solihull Riding Club 
Another first for us (and everyone else I think).  Two large indoor Arenas, good catering, very good viewing for spectators and a surface that drives really well made this an excellent venue.   The lorry park was a bit muddy and somewhat bizarely was covered in plastic bags of dog poo,  it seems that a dog show had just taken place and the entrants, or rather their owners, had left all these little presents just for us carriage drivers! 
We started off quite well with a fairly good P&P and were in second place to Lesley Cox and her tandem by 1.5,  the cones were not so good and we had one ball down and eight time faults (too slow) so we were now still in second place but to Gareth Roberts, the margin was still 1.5 penalties.
The first two obstacles went well and after them we were still in second place to Gareth and still by 1.5.  Then we came to obstacle 3 and had an unforced error of course (again!!) and a ball down,  this cost us 20 penalties plus 5 for the ball plus the time taken,  despondancy set in and we did not really try with the last one and had a slow time and another ball down.  The result of this was a slide from 2nd to 3rd.  Gareth was the deserved winner and Sandy Blakeway -Smith was second.     
View from the backstep:   ********#|*=+^$!!! &**>()<#~!!!********    (no translation available)

24-25 November 2001 Indoor National Finals at The College, Keysoe near Bedford
We set out for Keysoe on Friday afternoon and arrived at about 6.30pm to find the lorry park quite  full already.  By the time we had settled the ponies in their stables and set up the caravan it was time to grab some food in the cafe and get to bed early.  Saturday was dry and more lorries were arriving making everything quite crowded.  The event got underway at 0830 so we were up early to walk the dressage and prepare for our slot at 1100.   We were first on in the pairs class which had only five competitors as one had withdrawn, and did quite a reasonable test at 37 which left us in joint second place with Trevor Kimber,  Denise Brown did a highly accurate cracker of a test and was in the lead at this point with 26.5.  The cones course was then set up and included a box which was a first for Boz and Tom,  we went clear on knockdowns but had 6 time penalties, incredibly Trevor  was also on 6 so we were still on an equal score.  Denise had the misfortune to get a knockdown and scored 14 which cancelled out most of her lead from the dressage,  Sarah Owlett did a very good cones and scored only 2 which improved her placing to 2nd, so at the end of the first day we were joint third with Trevor although the scores were very close with only 2.5 points covering the first four.
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Scores at end of day one:  1st - Denise Brown (40.5),   2nd - Sarah Owlett (41),  3rd (joint) - Trevor Kimber and Jacqui Pillinger (43),   5th - Sarah Cooke (51.5).

Saturday night was party night and a very good meal was enjoyed in the Arena Restaurant.  Sunday dawned dry and we were up walking the first two obstacles bright and early.   We did well on these when it was our time to perform and ended up in the lead by a small margin, it was just as well that the timing was to 100th of a second as everyone's times were so similar. We put up fastest time in the second obstacle.

Scores after the first two obstacles:  1st - Jacqui Pillinger (117.87),  2nd - Trevor Kimber (118.22), 3rd -Denise Brown (118.89),  4th - Sarah Owlett (119.07),  5th - Sarah Cooke (131.42).

The last two obstacles were then put up and we had to learn two totally new ones as at these finals they were totally rebuilt and not just re-arranged. The third obstacle was well driven but the very last one was our downfall.  It was situated just in front of the paying customers so was designed to be fast and flowing and make an exciting spectacle with competitors traversing the arena from one side to the other in front of the crowd.  The effect of this was to favour fast performers and we were forced to take some risks and attempt some very tight turns with a route to cut distance for our little 40 inch high ponies, anyway, we had a ball down which cost 5 penalties and our challenge was over.  The final difference was the 5 penalties plus 2.27 seconds on time which equals 7.27.  We were well pleased, however, to keep under the 200 barrier and we had a great time over the whole weekend.  Boz and Tom both put in a great effort and we are very proud of the way they performed.

Final scores:   1st - Trevor Kimber (190.86),   2nd - Jacqui Pillinger (198.13),   3rd - Denise Brown (203.28),   4th - Sarah Owlett (217.29),  5th - Sarah Cooke (221.64).

18 November 2001 Indoor event at Adlington Equestrian Centre near Macclesfield
Again this was a first time visit for us and we all really enjoyed the experience.  A super surface for driving with a flat and dense fibre/rubber mix,  good and non-muddy, hard parking area which was well lit after dark, excellent catering facilities and a warm welcome from everyone we met means that this venue is a must for us in the future.  The trip up via M5 / M6 was easy and took just over three hours and because all but about fifteen miles was motorway the ponies were not stressed at all.  We were in second place in a multiples class of five after the P&P by 7.5 penalties, this was turned into a 5.5 lead after the cones.  We pulled out a bit more of a gap in the first two obstacles and after this phase we still only had 97 penalties,  the last two obstacles were well driven and we extended our lead to 27.5 finishing up with a score of 173.  This is the first indoor competition that we have achieved the lowest overall score regardless of class. 
View from the backstep:  This was a lot better to say the least!  The whole of Team Pink was working really well and the cones course and obstacles suited our strengths, being both flowing and tight whilst offering several alternatives.

04 November 2001 Indoor event at Rodbaston College Penkridge Nr Stafford 
The first time we have been to this venue and a very nice one too.  The trip up the M5/M6 was fine and the college was very easy to find.  The lorry park was dry and well surfaced, there was a catering caravan and the indoor school was large and had a rather deep fibre/sand/rubber mix which actually drove quite well although it could have done with a bit of levelling and rolling.  We were leading our class after the P&P and the cones phase,  then at the very first obstacle we had a course error which although we corrected it cost us a great deal of time and twenty penalty points.  We made up a little on the ensuing three obstacles but it was too little too late and we were well beaten into second place by a margin too large to think about.
View from the backstep:  I have to admit that the dressage is much better than it used to be but this is the third show in a row that we have had unforced errors of course, all have cost dearly in our results and domestic bliss has been severely compromised.  Let's hope for better things as the season really gets going.

21 October 2001  Indoor event at Gracelands Equestrian Centre, Droitwich, Worcs 
This event was quite close to us, just over one hour up the motorway.   The venue is a sort of cross between a stables, a scrapyard and a mud patch,  however the surface in the indoor school drives very well and there is a seperate little indoor school for warming up which was much appreciated as the weather turned to rain at about lunchtime and stayed that way until we left.  We did a quite reasonable dressage, sorry, P&P test, and were 6.5 in the lead at its completion.  The cones were a bit of a disaster because we had been practicing paces and thought we had 220 mts per minute weighed up.  We were wrong and went far too slow,  a minor navigational error did not help and although we were clear on knock-downs we ended up with twenty three time faults and were demoted to second place by 6.5.  The obstacles were next and we pulled back the deficeit and a bit more to be leading after the first two. The second two went quite well and we opened up more of a lead to finish in first place by 26.6.

15 July 2001  Inside out event at Di Hayes Shrewton Lodge Stud (White Horse HC)
Nice weather,  a good journey down to Shrewton which is just north of Salisbury and a super venue made for a good start to the day.  Once  set up we had some rain but only for a few minutes and then it was dry for the rest of the day.  We had a reasonable dressage albeit with all our usual mistakes and were lying first  by six points with 53.  We then went straight on to the cones and had one down and some time faults, we realised at this point that we had neglected to let out Boz's coupling rein after the dressage,  anyway this cut our lead to 0.2 - close or what!   In the afternoon there was a short marathon and five obstacles.  Numbers one, two and three were OK except that Tom seemed to be asleep,  four was a little slow at gates C and D but five brought disaster.  This obstacle was set in a clump of trees and A was approached from the wrong side so we had to do a half circle through the trees to get to it, there was only one opening to do this and we sailed past it into a dead end with very limited space to turn in.  The ponies did brilliantly to cope but this lost us a lot of time and at the final reckoning we were relegated to second place by 1.7. 

24 June 2001  Inside out event at Karen and Neil Swansons (White Horse Harness Club)
This was at a beautiful spot just south of Marlborough and the weather was really nice.  We did not do a fantastic dressage although our spirits were raised by a perfect rein back, after this phase we were lying second in our class.  We did a good cones with no balls down and hardly any time faults, at this point we took the lead.  The next phase was a little marathon, nearly all off-road, and the five obstacles,  these were all quite well driven and we held position to win by a margin.