The Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots BE90 and BE100 Championships are just days away now. Competitors are having their last training sessions, making sure every item is ticked off their lists and packing their equine lives into their cars, trailers and lorries ready for the off for a competition they will never forget.
All qualified are literally the best of the best having needed to finish in the top 10% of a standard BE90 or BE100 section before finishing in the top 20% of the highly competitive regional finals.
For the first time in 2014 these championships are being run at a ‘plus’ standard so in addition to the long arena championship dressage tests and championship technicality XC the riders will also be faced with a showjumping course of 1m or 1m10 maximum heights respectively for the two sections. These championships have taken a few years to get to the right technicality and hopefully this year will see the ideal result. The first few years the cross country was perhaps a little technically soft for the level of competitors but last year was beefed up asking a few more technical questions and so produced an influential but still highly enjoyable track for those competing. This year’s XC course which has been previewed on the Grassroots website shows to be no different with a number of complex questions for combinations to answer. The introduction of the higher showjumping is with the aim to make the phase more equally influential in the overall results.
The competition starts in earnest on Tuesday morning at 9am with half of the BE90 competitors and 2/3rds of the BE100 competitors having day before dressage. The remainder of the dressage commences Wednesday morning with the BE100 showjumping starting at 9:45 AM with the XC action starting at 11am. BE90 will commence their showjumping at 12 midday with the XC starting at 13:15
The majority of the Grassroots competition is held across the road from the main site on the area where the steeplechase was sited when the long format 4* event still took place. This is easily accessed by the public by walking in the opposite direction from the main arena when in the car park and crossing either at the main entrance or at the gate on the road next to Huntsman’s close. The Cross Country course though runs through the main park often side by side with the 4* track in many places, the start is located just prior to the quarry when coming from the road, it then runs through the Quarry, past the old Staircase, up towards the house including through the top of the Lake before heading back to finish just before Huntsmans close.
To add to the sense of occasion for the prize winners, they are awarded their prizes in front of Badminton House after the 4* initial trot up has been completed, so if coming for the trot up be sure to stay and watch.
Although personally I have never been lucky or privileged enough to ride at the Grassroots Championships I would offer a few words of advice to those riding this year. The event is more than just another competition and although your dedication, preparation and desire to be competitive should not be changed it is wise to be realisistic so that you enjoy your time there as much as possible. Go out and do the best test, the best showjumping round and the best XC round you can do on that day. If it is not enough to win or be placed then so be it and don’t be disappointed especially if on this occasion your best XC round includes a stop or the showjumping some poles. Remember you are one of the best 60 or 100 competitors in the country at your level by reaching these Championships. Your performance is your performance alone, and you will not be disappointing anyone else if you do not finish top of the leader board, so don’t be disappointed in yourself.
So go and have fun, remember to stop and pause every so often to appreciate where you are, and your huge achievement in getting there, and aim for that really rather special completion rosette, and if you happen to walk away with a rosette a little more special still, then feel that extra little bit amazing, as you deserve it. The Championships for most are a once in a life time event, so do your utmost to walk away from them with only amazing memories.