FEI World Pairs Championships
TEAM TRAVEL BLOG Team Blog by Chef d’Equipe: Minta Winn
Team Trainer: Wilf Bowman-Ripley
Edited by: Rupert Barnard
Sunday 15 September 
Sunday morning had us all out early, as we had three drivers in the first 20. With harness trot up starting at 8:30, and cones starting at 9:30, it was all hands on deck!

Barry Hunter was the course designer and built what looked like an easy going course, but proved (as usual for any championship course) to have a few stings in the tail!

Throughout the morning we were seeing balls and time penalties accumulating fast and even. A couple of double clears showed us how it was done.

Our group started with Chris on a score of 212.89, driving his two Arbo-Friesians. Then Lindsay on a score of 203.51. Both, first timers at this level, they showed guts and resilience and I am sure they took many lessons and future plans home with them.

Jo went next bringing out Boy to go with Zoro, with a score of 197.82. She was delighted to finish as this will earn her a silver FEI pin.

At Lunchtime David took his turn, the crowd was massive and all appreciative of the level of horsemanship on display. David's 2 balls down and just over the time proved how tricky the course could be.

A very quick lunch break for the judges of about 20 minutes and we were into the top 20 and our girl Libby was 3rd to go! Being in the top 20 going into the cones is no mean feat, so no pressure!

The two before Libby both had cones and time penalties, and we all held our breath for her as she went through the start. With one cone down, Libby thought “well I had better kick on now!” So she did, coming in under time and to a huge roar from both Team GB and the large crowd.

It was now up to what would happen with the rest of the drivers. The next two had a cone down, but faster times so held their positions (just). Then scores started racking up to bring Libby slowly up the leader board and well placed in the cones competition.

Right up to the silver medallist she was in 8th place and then his double clear pushed her out of the prize placing into 9th in the cones and 14th overall.

The final competitor of the day was Martin Holle of Hungary with a lead of 15.17 ahead of Sandro Koalick. Sandro had the honour of hosting first world championships in East Germany for the first time. It was also a great family affair as both he and his son drove in the championships - could he realise the ultimate dream and win the gold medal?

In the final round, with balls dropping and time eating into Martin's score everyone held their breath… and then relaxed as he retained his Gold medal from Lipica two years ago by 0.68 penalty points.

The event was a superb, fun and friendly event - the organisers did everything they could to make it work, as a good competition and with brilliant hospitality. The past week has certainly put Drebkau on the map in the driving world!

I would like to thank all our drivers Libby, David, Chris, Jo and Lindsay, and their support crew who were simply awesome. They turned out the horses to perfection as great team players, and were valuable extra support out on marathon day. Our hard-working trainer, Wilf Bowman Ripley, whose knowledge and wisdom certainly helped our drivers this year, and quick eye is also a huge godsend to me as the Chef.

Special thanks also go to our vet and nations-night manager Tony Collins who was the source of endless jokes, but worked hard on the halt and as well as generally supporting us all week.

The whole Team would like to say a huge thank to you all of the sponsors who helped, not only the team but some of the drivers individually: British Equestrian Federation, Musto Clothing, JS Teamwear, OPG Graphics, Ashfields Carriage and Polo Club and British Carriagedriving. Your help is invaluable and much appreciated, so on their behalf please accept my heartfelt thanks.

Finally the horses, who gave their all and were all superstars and a credit to Team GB. I hope that in two years’ time we will be doing it all again.

If you are interested in selection and training please, come forward now - the sooner you start the journey the better your chances of success!

With the team on the way home it's goodbye from Drebkau 2019!

Saturday 14 September 
An early start for all. Drivers and navigators on the course doing their final walk of the obstacles, while the support crews were making sure all the equipment was ready for the marathon ahead.

Wilf oversaw the drivers, on hand to answer any last-minute questions. Minta and Tony checked all horses where fit to run, and all were – we were ready for the off.

Lindsay set the ball rolling for our Team, focused and ready to have a go. She set off early, which gave us all a chance to see how the course would run. She did a sterling job at her first World Championships, in front of a large crowd of spectators.

Over the course of the day visitors flocked to the obstacles, the organisers’ estimate of 10,000 people was not far off!

We saw Lindsay safely home, and after a slight hiccup on her time sheet (she had been held at the start, but this was not clear on her green card) she was declared clear on time - to much relief all round!

Next to go was Jo with her now all grey pair (a late decision not to use one of her horses). She drove a solid round gaining confidence with each hazard and finished with a clear time sheet and two horses in good form.

Libby set off at lunchtime and drove a superb clean, solid round, always forward, and returned home to end up 18th out of 82! This was a fantastic result and she was modest to the end over it all. It was a great boost for the camp and all credit to her team but especially her and Michael (her backstepper and all-round supporter).

Chris was focused and ready for his first World Championship marathon as he left for the start. Unfortunately, Chris drove out in the hottest part of the day, which many drivers found sapped power on the sandy soil here at Drebkau. A momentary lapse resulted in a timely re-route in one obstacle, but to finish and not be eliminated is a feat in itself at this level, so all credit to him on holding his nerve and continuing to push forward.

David had a long wait to almost the end of the day, with all of the big guns in and around him. He drove a good competitive round but lost precious seconds in a couple of obstacles. That said, he never gives up and with David Rockall on the black they make a formidable team.

After a long day, all the horses were settled in their stables, the cones course had its first walk, then the team all pulled together for a GB-BBQ!

With a long line of tables in the middle of the camp, various pots and pans appeared from each lorry. David Mathews was on one BBQ and Michael the other, between then we were all well fed and everyone was able to relax – but not for long!

The big evening entertainment was an “early-Oktoberfest” beer festival, where all the locals from far and wide appeared in full national costume. Lederhosen, knee high socks and checked shirts for the men and brightly coloured Dirndl (full skirts and blouses) for the women!

It was rammed in the tent, for the presentations, and the drinking beyond, but I think some locals were a bit bemused as to why their drinking festival had a horse show presentation on the middle of it!

With live music into the early hours (a mixture of oompah, German drinking songs and apres-ski Europop!) it was a brilliant night!

Friday 13 September 
With the camp in good form from yesterday's positive results, there was a good workman-like feel early this morning.

Those who did their Dressage yesterday were planning to be out walking obstacles all day today, popping over to cheer on Libby and David during the day.

Wilf was up and out on the training field early, fine tuning things with David and then back to warm-up Libby, our first Driver of the day.

Libby drove a very good and accurate test (53.84) in front of a very large and busy crowd, which was growing as every hour went by.

After Libby’s test, Wilf took to the obstacles, working with each driver on a one-on-one basis to develop their individual routes for each obstacle.

Back in the dressage Arena, there were some stunning tests being laid down - it was a delight to watch and a great education to see what the international judges were applauding.

Later in the afternoon, David completed the GB line-up with his dressage test. His turnout was immaculate as he drove up the centre line (with great aplomb).

It makes for nerve-wracking watching, with the live scoring moving up and down as each judge gives a mark, but at the end of the test we all had smiles as he nailed a score of 52.51.

David’s score, together with Libby's 53.84 and Chris’s 56.24 of the previous day has put Team GBR in 6th position, but with Austria hard on our heels, it will be all to play for out on the marathon course tomorrow.

This evening entertainment is a concert with a star called Vanessa Mai… We thought she was a violinist, but apparently, she is a top German singer who has a huge following! The layout of the event means that we have front row seats as we sit in the camp and so can be entertained in comfort!

Our marathon times tomorrow are :
  Lindsay Falloon - 9:15 (8:15 BST)
    Joanna Charlesworth -12:05 (11:05 BST)
      Libby Priest - 12:40 (11:40 BST)
        Chris Smith - 13:55 (12:55 BST)
          David Mathews -15:10 (14:10 BST)

Good luck to all our GB drivers!

Thursday 12 September 
The camp was awake and going early, with 3 drivers' dressage tests spaced out over the day we were organised and off.

Wilf did some early training and then was ready for Lindsay to oversee her warm-up. This is her first World Championship and although obviously nervous, she was composed and drove a great test. Lindsay’s smile as she came out of the arena was massive, though she said it was by far the scariest thing she’s done – strong words indeed from a Police officer!

The Team all came up to support her and her score of 66.56 was a solid start and well deserved.

Next to go just after lunch was Chris, also making his World championship debut. Despite a change of horse from his original plan, he went into the warm-up focused and in the zone.

The turnout looked immaculate as he set off up the centre line determined to do his best while live scoring showed each mark and a running total. We were all watching and keeping count, as Chris laid down a good test (with the Judges agreeing!).

After his final salute he also left the arena with a huge grin and a very satisfying score of 56.24.

Meanwhile, our last competitor of the day Jo was warming up and putting final touches to her pair before too setting off up the centre line.

Jo had to put in her marathon horse after so sadly losing her Dressage horse earlier in August, but she drew on her experience and drive a polished test to just pip Lindsay on a score of 66.09.

Overall it was a solid day for us, and we Look forward to Libby and David’s tests on Friday at 10.20am and 4.35pm respectively (local time).

For those of you following us at home, beware that there seems to be a scam online offering live-streaming of the event – unfortunately, there is no live stream.

Straight after dressage, Wilf gave a course walk of the obstacles, where various routes were discussed for the drivers to look at.

This evening, our hard working grooms (photo above) rallied to take part in the international grooms competition. Our guys and girls did well under Tony’s guidance but got resoundly beaten by teams with more muscle and power (despite a bit of South African support!) - we were knocked out of the finals.

While Libby and David prep for Dressage tomorrow, the others will be out walking obstacles and exercising horses. It’s all go!

Wednesday 11 September 
The camp was up bright and early to be met with warm air, blue skies and the promise of good weather.

The trot up started at 9 am and we were 26-30 in Lane one. Everyone presented looking fabulous, our Musto team clothing looked smart, yet was comfortable and, most importantly, everyone passed fit to compete.

Once the horses had been returned to the stables, Wilf worked with the drivers out in the training area one by one again before the Opening ceremony.

The ceremony was held on foot in the main arena in the afternoon where, having paraded around the arena, we were welcomed by our hosts and the local Mayor.

This event is considered to be very prestigious around the local area. In fact, it was the first time a world championships had been held in East Germany for the Pairs and the locals are justifiably proud of this fact.

Led in by our vet-turned-flag-bearer, Tony Collins, all our team and support crew took part. Tony also managed to video a lot of it, the result you will see much later in the year.

After the ceremony some drivers drove again, whilst the Nations Night crew started on the preparations in the magnificent party tent.

Tony again lead this contingent (ably assisted by Maria and Ruth) with Minta mixing the Pimms, and serving up Gin and Tonic, Scotch and Isle of Man Whiskey. Michael came in just before the start and cooked up the Manx smoked Kippers, whilst back at camp the Mathews family cooked Roast Beef, and the Smith clan arrived in with super Yorkshire Puddings and Gravy.

The Food was received with great interest and was soon all cleared up, as was the Gordon’s G&T’s on offer, complete with ice and a slice! But the best-seller was Minta’s Pimms (mixed to the family recipe of “if in doubt add more!”).

Our “Tony-of-all-Trades” entertained everyone, dressed as his own version of Britannia, causing much hilarity and certainly got us noticed!

The evening gave everyone a chance to relax and enjoy wonderful hospitality from all the nations, but one thing is clear: it’s all to play for in the morning as the competition gets underway.

Lindsay Fallon opens the batting for GB in in the dressage early doors, followed by Chris Smith running just after lunch, with Jo Charlesworth running about an Hour Later. You can follow the scores online. Go to: RESULTS

Tuesday 10 September 
Tuesday Tuesday dawned bright and no rain! The ground drains really well here being sandy and very soon everyone settled into the rhythm of camp life.

We had our allotted time in the practice arena in the morning, so everyone had to get to it sharp. It was the first time Wilf could see everyone driving, giving him an overview of where everyone was at. The championship atmosphere has been building slowly and the day was spent with all the drivers exercising their horses and having one to one's with Wilf.

The Chefs' WhatsApp group was pinging every few minutes as the electricity kept tripping at various places around the lorry park. At our welcome Chefs meeting we were all reminded about the number of plugs being used and poor wiring of a lot of cables which was seen to be the main reason - damp ground didn't help but slowly things improved.

We had also asked for another hook-up point and a huge generator was duly delivered. It's been a bit noisy since, but we do have electric to all of our boxes and caravans.

In the evening, we held a driver’s briefing where the general information from the Chefs' meeting was passed on and the plan for Wednesday was discussed. With plenty to think about for the days ahead, everyone settled in for the evening.

Monday 9 September 
I would like to say it dawned bright and clear, sadly no. Rain hammered down on the caravan roof while lorries queued up outside the showground waiting for the gates to open at 8am.

Our guys sensibly took their time, arriving around mid-day to our generous sized pitch. Everyone got parked up and horses were unloaded, with Tony Collins (Vet) seeing everyone to their stables.

Then the unpacking started, along with building camp … in the rain.

The usual fight for electric points ensued, but thanks to the Rick Velstra (who loaned us some adapter boards) and some ingenuity, everyone got plugged in. Of course, as soon as this happened the power went off and then spent the remainder of the day tripping in and out, despite pleas from the Chef's.

In the truly British way, we soldiered on in the wet – until a halt was called for tea and cakes, bringing calm to the camp.

The first drivers meeting was scheduled early evening, where Chef d'Equipe Minta and team trainer Wilf outlined a few points, set up the day's training for Tuesday and dealt with any housekeeping issues.

The good news is that the rain is meant to stop in the morning (according to our phones) making way for sunshine and warmth for the rest of the week.

Sunday 8 September 
Everyone is now on the road and travelling towards Drebkau via different stops.

Autobahnstormers Wilf and Minta went through in one hit, arriving about 6.30pm and stopped up in the camping site overlooking the training arenas, ready to move into the competitors camp early on Monday.

David, Libby and Lindsay all stayed in Minden and many thanks must go to Roger Campbell and Team GEWE for their hospitality.

Chris had a stop in Lastrupp and Jo stopped closer to the show ground - all got settled for the night, ready for an early start in the morning.

Saturday 7 September 
Prior to delving into the blog, the whole team would like to thank the following (and many others) for their support:

British Equestrian Federation
Musto Clothing
OPG Graphics
Ashfields Carriage and Polo Club
British Carriagedriving

So Team GB Horse Pairs are on the road to Germany!

While our 5 drivers departed for the world championships, our heartfelt condolences went to Graham Heath who sadly had to pull out in the final week.

Everyone had their own way of getting to Europe and onto Germany:

Libby Priest led the way, fresh from being crowned National Horse Pairs Champion at Bywell last weekend. Heading south, she had stopped for a rest day at Ashfields, before hopping into Europe via Calais.

Following in her tyre tracks were David Mathews and Lindsay Falloon, Lindsay on her way to her first World Championship. Chris Smith travelled via Harwich on the same boat as Wilf Bowman-Ripley (Team Trainer) and Minta Winn (Chef d’Equipe). Jo Charlesworth, already based in Belgium would set off on the Sunday.

Monday I would like to say it dawned bright and clear, sadly no. Rain hammered down on the caravan roof while lorries queued up outside the showground waiting for the gates to open at 8am. Our guys sensibly took their time, arriving around mid-day to our generous sized pitch. Everyone got parked up and horses were unloaded with Tony Collins (Vet) seeing everyone to their stables. Then the unpacking started, along with building camp… in the Rain. The usual fight for electric points ensued but thanks to the Rick Velstra (who loaned up some adaption boards) and some ingenuity everyone got plugged in. Of course, as soon as this happened the power went off and spent the remainder of the day tripping in and out, despite pleas from the Chef's. In the truly British way, we soldiered on in wet – until a halt was called for Tea and Cake, bringing calm to the camp.

The first Drivers meeting was scheduled early evening, where Minta and Wilf outlined a few points, set up the days training for Tuesday and dealt with any housekeeping issues. The good news is that the rain is meant to stop in the morning (according to our phones) making way for sunshine and warmth for the rest of the week.