FEI World Singles Championships 2020
Pau, France

Team Travel Blog

Travel blog by Chris Smith / Amy Mundell.      Photos by members of the British Squad.

The event is streamed live on the FEI YouTube channel and FEI TV ►►►
Friday 23rd October
Friday was marathon day and the weather forecast for Thursday night had been correct - there had been a lot of rain. At first it looked as if it would dry up as promised but shortly after we started walking, it began raining again.

All of the drivers were pleased to have our new polo shirts and (given the rain) waterproof jackets generously supplied by Toggi through British Equestrian. We are all very grateful and the kit looked extremely smart and kept us dry.

James was set up at the halt waiting for each driver to arrive and to make sure that there were no problems with the vet.

By the time we were on section B the weather had cleared up meaning we could dispense with jackets and show off the smart base layers generously provided by J.S. Teamwear.

Our first driver off was Harriet who was very pleased with how Rocky went for her, albeit they were a little surprised by the size of the crowds at the first two obstacles.

Second up was Charlotte who was thrilled with how well Casper went - he felt full of energy and was not at all phased by the atmosphere.

Our next driver to go was Lucy who had a smooth round with plenty to build on for the future.

Last off was Grace. After a good start in obstacle one Milo set against her on the final left turn and she struggled to make any tight left turns on the rest of the course, leaving her with a disappointing round.

There was a rumour that the trade village had been told to pack up today because of the new restrictions in this part of France, so most of us headed to the catering area for supper, only to be told that they will still be here for the rest of the weekend, so we might get some shopping in tomorrow (our rest day) after all (in between watching the cross country).

After that everyone will be getting ready for a very early start on Sunday.

Thursday 22nd October

Thursday was the final day of dressage. Lucy was on at 10 a.m. and was disappointed that Cougar did not settle better in the arena. She posted a score of 69.32, so the best of our drivers.

After that the team went to cycle section A. The route itself is flat and on good going, but we have over 2 Km to drive to get to the start of A and then nearly 1.5 Km from the end of the transfer to the halt, so we are going to have to be careful with timings to get to the halt in time for our full 10 minutes.

With section A in the bag, we spent most of the day walking obstacles and exercising the horses that did dressage on Wednesday. Some of the team managed to find time to watch some of the ridden dressage, which followed on from us in the main arena.

The shopping village is now fully open and each driver has a commemorative saddle pad to collect from one of the sponsors, as well as a bottle of local wine from another sponsor. The saddle pads are very smart and the wine went very well with an early supper before a busy day tomorrow.

We are predicted a lot of rain overnight but a dry day tomorrow, so hopefully the going will be good by the time we get out on the course. Harriet is first off at 12:20 with Charlotte immediately after at 12:24. Lucy starts at 12:36 which Grace heading off at 13:16.

Wednesday 21st October

Today was dressage day for Harriet, Charlotte and Grace, with plenty of obstacle walking in between.

Harriet was first to go and came in with a score of 71.56. She was pleased with the way Rocky went but disappointed with her score.

Next up was individual driver Charlotte. She was very pleased with Casper’s effort and posted a score of 76.34.

Charlotte Chard in the dressage

Grace was the last to go and after a good entry, Milo’s first international test did not go as well as she had hoped, leaving her with a disappointing score of 74.98.

We had a team obstacle walk after Grace’s test and then back to camp in the rain to put all our chairs away before they got too damp.

There is a large selection of trade stands and food stalls being set up between the main arena (where obstacle 7 will be) and the second arena (where obstacle 8 is already set up). The food smells delicious and we are all looking forward to a free day on Saturday, to watch the cross country and do some shopping.

Early nights for everyone after the big day. Lucy is on at 10.00 tomorrow so we are all hoping she has a good test up her sleeve.

RESULTS & Start Times ►►►

Tuesday 20th October

Today was trot-up day, which seems to be the most nerve wracking day of the event.

All four drivers turned out for a practice at 9.00 and none had any issues at all. The morning was then spent making sure that the horses looked their best and getting in some obstacle walking now that the obstacles were open.

Trot up began at 2 pm and progressed very quickly. All four of our hoses were passed as fit to compete without any problems.

There was then a little more time for walking before the drivers had to harness up for our final training session in the main arena. This time we had two shared slots of 8 minutes each. Grace and Harriet went first followed by Charlotte and Lucy – the idea being to keep the Gelderlanders in separate sessions!

All four drivers were very pleased with how their horses went. Whilst we were training out stand-in chef d'Equipe, James Rooney, attended the draw. He drew 6th, which means that all of our drivers have a nice slot in the middle of a session.

Dressage times on Wednesday are 10.20 for Harriet, 13.15 for Charlotte and 14.25 for Grace.  On Thursday Lucy goes at 10.00.

Tuesday evening would have been the opening ceremony, but instead the organisers arranged a socially distanced reception. It was all held outdoors with everyone masked up.

There were two speeches before the PoJ, Andrew Counsell, declared the event open.

We were then served a variety of nibbles at socially distanced tables for 4. The snacks ranged from delicious to what can best be described as interesting – including pickled beetroot served with raspberries!

It was not the same as an opening ceremony or a proper Nations Night, but it did show the effort that the organisers are making to make this event as close to what we would usually expect as possible.

After a couple of glasses of wine it was back to camp to tie down everything that moves because we have had a weather warning for 90 kph winds overnight.

RESULTS & Start Times ►►►

Monday 19th October

Our first full day at the showground. The horses have all travelled well and settled into their stables.

We have a good sized plot next to the Hungarian and Swiss teams, but we are probably furthest from the stables of any team and are already worrying about how we will get off on Sunday.

We are very grateful to Patti and Keith Atkinson for sponsoring very smart team gilets for each driver and backstepper, and also to Jane Smith of JS Teamwear for supplying team base layers.

It seems a little strange to have to do a socially distanced team photo wearing the team face masks, which Grace got printed for us.

Each driver had an allocated training spot of 10 minutes in the main arena today, and all were very pleased with how their horses went. Hopefully we have now seen all the scary stuff and there will be no issues on dressage day.

Harriet Bradford

Lucy McGill

Charlotte Chard

Grace Smith

After training it was obstacle decoration time. Each nation has been allocated an element in the final obstacle to decorate.

Even though the obstacles are not yet open some teams clearly took the opportunity to walk that obstacle - but our girls stuck to the rules and concentrated on decorating.

The Swiss decoration incorporates a clock which, much to everyone’s amusement, is telling the wrong time.

Tomorrow is trot up. We are having a team practice at 09.00 and the real thing stars at 14.00. After that we have two more shared slots in the main arena so that the horses can see the big screen that has been set up since yesterday.

Thank you to Natalie Bradford for sending the photos.

Sunday 18th October

The whole team are well on their way. Charlotte and Harriet broke their journey at Le Mans whilst Grace and Lucy made for Bordeaux. Harriet arrived at Le Mans in time to watch some of the FEI pony dressage and wave the flag for the British rider (pic).

Grace’s horse (Milo) was very confused by his first train journey (inside a box which was not moving inside another box which was moving) (pic).

We were very surprised to arrive at the race course (which we had been told would be empty) to find the car park full and a circus going on.

There was no sign of any of the locals obeying the new 21.00 curfew!

Harriet and Charlotte are following each other south (pic).

Lucy is aiming to arrive at the showground at 14.00 when the stables open and we are parked up in a lorry park outside Pau waiting to join the queue (pic).

The running order for dressage is: Harriet on Wednesday morning, Grace on Wednesday afternoon and Lucy on Thursday morning.

Charlotte does not have her slot yet.

Team travel blog: Chris Smith / Amy Mundell.      Photos by members of the British Squad

FEI World Singles Championships 2020
Pau, France

List of Competitors and Start Times ►►►

Drivers representing Britain ►►►