With the season starting some people already have their year planned out in great detail. We would like to add an extra option to the potential event list….
Aldon is one of two venues in the country (the other being Great Witchingham) that still runs a good old fashioned three day event with roads & tracks and steeplechase, and we think everyone with an experienced BE100 (horses must have 3 clears BE100 XC) or even novice horse should make it their end of season aim. For those with horses with points there is an open section so the event really is open to everyone.
If you have never had the opportunity to ride in a true long format event we will happily lure you in with the promise that it is probably the most fun you can have eventing in fact Carlsberg would be proud to call it their own invention if allowed, and Aldon especially does such a fantastic job of organising the event, so to not compete there you would be seriously missing out.
I personally had the privilege of competing in the Be100 three day event a couple of years ago now with my old mare Fleur and wow what fun we had. From the start the event is run with the professionalism of a CCI but the friendliness factor ensures all feel welcome. I drove myself and Fleur down in my lorry to camp out for the long weekend, I had no groom but was thankful for a few good friends who helped me on XC day. Most riders camp and stable on site for the duration of the event although it isn’t a requirement but it does add to the atmosphere.
From the start the event has that extra bit of specialness to set it apart from a normal event. The dressage is held on the same area as the international classes rather than the further fields behind. You are given bridle and rider numbers to use instead of bibs for the first and last phases. Competitor briefings, and also the party are important features.
The evening competitor briefings are listed as compulsory and there is no doubt they should be as assistance is provided from a BE trainer giving guidance on everything on how to ride the roads and tracks, the 10 minute box, minute markers and course walking. In addition to the briefings the trainer also runs several course walks which even for the experienced competitor are a useful tool, especially as the course will require a minimum of 2 walks.
The roads and tracks can sound quite daunting but you are given a map beforehand and you have the option to hack them the day before. Signs on course also help prevent you from going wrong. The BE trainer will offer some guidance on speed in the briefings and following this advice normally sees you and your horse suitably warmed up for the steeplechase as phase B.
The steeplechase, oh what fun! When you walk the fences they are quite daunting as a decent height but other than occasionally a slightly sticky jump over the first the vast majority of horses quickly take it in their stride flying round easily inside the time. As a rider I remember finishing with a great big grin.
Next phase C roads and tracks allows a chance for a bit of a chill whilst keeping your horse ticking over. Its normally a nice mix of walk and trot and when timed well means you can come into the 10 minute box a few minutes early. The 10 minute box is exactly that chance to give you and your horse a 5 minute breather. The vets will check over your horse, and hopefully you will have a friend or two to act as grooms so you have chance to breathe as well. Multiple stewards will also keep check of the timings for you giving you multiple warnings as your 10 minutes come to an end to ensure you are never rushed.
Lastly on the Saturday the XC it is a far longer and more technical track than a standard BE100 and would be equivalent to a CCI at BE100 level if such a thing existed. You and your horse have to be fit but if you are you will storm round. So many people I talk to who have done it say they have had the best XC rounds of their lives which can only be down to the roads, tracks and steeplechase prior to the XC. Despite the tracks and 10 minutes box inbetween the steeplechase really gets both you and your horse’s blood up and it stays up. This means a bolder more forward thinking approach to the round from the word go and a resulting more positive round sure to fill the vast majority of riders with an overwhelming feeling of glee.
Sunday sees the grand finale, the showjumping again held in the main ring unlike the BE100 showjumping which is held in the secondary ring. Before the showjumping though all horses must pass a trot up and veterinary inspection. A chance to show off your best outfit is it appeals! The showjumping is held in reverse order of merit in true three day event style so the final result is never known until the last rider jumps.
In addition to very generous prize money (£400 to the winner in 2015) there are also valuable direct qualifying spots available for the Badminton Mitsubishi Motors Cup (formerly known as grassroots) with eligible combinations in the top 10% of starters directly qualifying for the following year’s BE100 final. Our 2016 Badminton blogger took advantage of this fact winning her ticket for the final after finishing 3rd at Aldon last year.