With the horsebox only just unpacked from Windsor, we loaded up again on Friday 30th May for the trip to Milton Keynes and the Junior Regional Tetrathlon. This is the main regional competition of the year with the usual format of a boys team and girls team (and a few individuals) representing Wales & Borders. From Area 5, Ben (Boys Team) & Russell Wingfield (Aberconwy PC – Individual) were to join up with other boys from Areas 10 & 18. We were warned that conditions were less than ideal and on arrival the mud was already ankle deep on the parking field! Despite this, about 150 competitors & horses arrived from all corners of England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales over the course of Friday evening and spirits were high in the regional camps. There were 10 boys teams altogether and with Scotland and Ireland (2 teams) bringing competitors & horses such a long way (and their training & selection process so well developed), we knew these were the main teams to keep an eye on!
On Saturday morning, shooting was first and the W&B team all controlled their nerves to put in solid performances – Ben had a great score of 920 (out of 1000). Then it was off to swimming which is Ben’s weakest event, but joining Ruthin Swimming Club in the last few months really paid off as he added 14m to his personal best of just two weeks ago. The other boys swam really well and the W&B team were 5th at the end of two events. On return from the swim we set out to walk the XC course – with no more rain & warm breezes the mud levels were easing and the going looked remarkably good. The course looked challenging but fair- several jumps stood out as potential problems with combinations, tight turns, lots of flowers and the one everyone was talking about – the jump into water (a), jump in the water (b) then tight turn to a skinny (c). The dilemma was whether to attempt the tricky combination but risk 60 penalties for a stop/run out (and then probably take the ’L’ option to be safe with another 70 penalties), or take the ‘L’ option straight away, which only involved riding through the water (no jumps)….
As is tradition, each team had to provide some entertainment at the evening party (pirate theme) and, as is tradition, all the teams except W&B had actually rehearsed and practised a dance / song etc.! Despite this everyone had a good time and the boys were packed off to bed by 11ish as they were riding at 9am. Sunday brought hot sunny weather (hurrah!) and the team looked great in their red XC colours. The XC proved to be the challenge it promised with only 19 (out of 63) boys going clear – including two of the W&B team. Ben had one stop and the other two just a few more penalties but the Team did well enough to rise to 4th with just the run to go. The run was around undulating fields of long grass and sticky mud but times were still amazingly fast, particularly for the Irish. Ben ran just 10s slower than at Windsor (which was hard, flat ground), resulting in his best ever tetrathlon total. The boys retained their 4th place overall with Scotland winning and the two Irish teams in 2nd & 3rd. Huge thanks must go to the organisers and land owners for letting the competition go ahead given the ground conditions leading up to the event and we will take away lots of good memories of a really friendly & exciting competition.
Penny and Ben Read