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Mary tells us what went wrong at the Europeans

After a whirlwind couple of months for Mary we managed to catch up with her to get her take on what went wrong at the Europeans and how she plans to fend off William Fox-Pitt in her quest to win the HSBC FEI Classic!

“Off we went to the Europeans, we all felt positive and like we had a pretty strong squad with a good chance of bringing back Gold,” Mary admits. “In reality thought it was a strange week which didn’t really go to plan for us! I was really chuffed with Imperial Cavalier’s dressage – he was much more settled than at the World Championships before and it was his best test to date, so I was very pleased to be the best British score after the dressage and up there with the German horses. The cross country was a lovely course designed by Captain Mark Phillips and as I walked it I did think there was going to be a lot of clear rounds so it would be down to time. I shouldn’t have though as I made a mistake and over rode a fence and poor Archie said ‘hang on Mary’ and tried to chip in a short stride but it wasn’t to be and we both fell. He landed slightly on one side of me but thank goodness there was no broken bones and even more thank goodness he was OK! All the team members had problems and I think we were lucky to come back with the Bronze medal to be honest! William had two near misses – and he very rarely has sticky moments so it’s not even like he is practiced at staying on - Piggy was disappointed because Jakarta got strong – which is out of character for him – and when they get strong you lose time because you can’t let them run on - so she had time penalties, Polly Stockton’s horse went lame when we got there, Laura Collett did a fantastic dressage test but her horse was not himself cross country and Nicola Wilson made a mistake in her dressage which was heartbreaking as she was so cross with herself – we have all done it though! It was all silly things but I do feel that perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing, the last 9 years we have bought back team Gold and I hope we have got our bad luck out of the way before next years Olympic Games!”

“It was then a quick turnaround – I was quite sore – no broken bones but very bruised, so I got checked out and Andy Thomas our team physio worked on me and gave me painkillers that I was allowed to take and off we went to Burghley! I was really thrilled – both Apache Sauce and Kings Temptress did the best dressage tests they have ever done and we were right up there after the dressage. The cross country course was bigger than previous years but less technical. I had a great ride on both horses but got a couple of time penalties on Apache Sauce that I kicked myself for. When I rode Kings Temptress I was determined to be in the time, however half way round I thought I was doing well and relaxed a bit, then I realised I wasn’t doing as well as I thought and ended up with one time penalty! The show jumping was an interesting day – having had glorious weather all week the heavens opened and it made the ground very wet and slippery on the surface. Some horses seemed to cope with it and others didn’t – Apache Sauce is normally a very good jumper but we had a very disappointing four down, Kings Temptress is not such a good jumper yet she was brilliant and had just one down so we finished third! She was also the top mare and I won the award for breeding her!”

“I have to admit to getting off at Burghley with relief that the next event it was not me riding, it was Emily’s turn! So next stop was Portugal for the Junior European Championships – Emily was the youngest at just 15 and was picked to do the individual. It was very exciting, she did a great dressage test and lead the rankings – she couldn’t believe it – and I thought she rode really well. She zoomed round the cross country with 3 seconds to spare so maintained her lead overnight. In the show jumping she had one jump in hand but it wasn’t to be and she had 2 down which meant she plummeted from Gold medal to seventh place which was gutting for her! She was absolutely devastated but if anyone had told her she would be in gold medal position at the beginning of the week after dressage and cross country she wouldn’t have believed them! It certainly gave her a taste of the highs and lows of eventing!”

“Currently I am still leading the HSBC FEI Classic Series and there is only one event to go which is Pau in France. If Fox-Pitt goes to Pau and wins it he will beat me though – which knowing him he probably will – so I can’t risk not going! As long as I finish in 8th or above I will win – it is the biggest prize pot at £92,000! So Imperial Cavalier is my chosen ride – he didn’t get a proper run at the Europeans and I don’t want to finish the season on that bad note so keep your fingers crossed for us!” We certainly will do Mary! Good luck!