Firstly, I am just delighted with how the younger horses have stepped up to their goals for this year.  Derries Blitz (Ash) is getting stronger and stronger and ended the season at Novice ready to continue his education over the winter and aim for seven year old classes and Intermediate next year.  Easy Done finished his season with a trip to Lignieries CCI2*, he easily made the time on the cross-country and I am very much looking forward to him moving up the levels.

The advanced boys really came into their own this autumn after a lot of training and work not just this year, but for the past few years.  Hasty Imp headed to his first four-star at Burghley and I was so impressed with his attitude and how he stepped up to the mark. There is so much more to come from him, he is only 10 years old, but he kept a level head throughout the whole competition and gave me an incredible clear ride around the demanding and tough cross country track.  He will have a break and start his winter preparations to head to another four star in the spring.

Easy Target continued his fantastic form after Salperton.  2nd at Barbury International and 2nd at Gatcombe Championships making him the national champion. 

WhittingtonF Gat14kh 009 web

Whittington National Gat14kh 418 Web

In September, we had the real highlight of our season. Easy Target and I won the CCI*** Blenheim International Horse trials. He so deserved this win, having had to pull him up at Badminton due to the tiring ground conditions, he came home happy and ready to continue the season on top form. This season couldn’t have gone any better for him and I am so excited for him to come out next year and continue doing the job he loves so much.

FrancisWhittington EasyTarget Blenheim 2014 2 web large

Fernhill Highlight also came into his own at Blenheim, he was incredible cross-country day.  He made a tough track feel effortless and was solid in all three phases to come 5th.  It felt so great for both my horses to get placed in the top five. 

The feed, training, back office team support, it's all so important to my horses' welfare and plays a huge part in the team's success. Having the support from Saracen and the best nutritionist in the country in Lizzie Drury and her team, is invaluable. The support I receive all throughout the season really does make such a difference. Lizzie knows my horses, and she knows what tiny tweaks sometimes need to be made to ensure they travel well, are the right body condition and they have the right fuel in the tank. I am so grateful to be able to rely on the professionals to know your horses and listen to me and my head Groom Sharron.

Francis and lizzie medium

Finally we headed to Pau CCI 4* with West Side.  A new ride this season, it was a big ask for him to make the step up to four star with relatively low mileage this season.  But he has a huge amount of ability and scope and I believed in him.  He did a very good dressage and with a couple of mistakes still managed to lie 9th after this phase and again, another winter of training, and there will be so much more to come.  We did have a small misunderstanding at the beginning of the cross country course which resulted in 20 penalties, but he flew around the rest and grew in confidence as we went on.  It was a very technical demanding track which was causing a number of problems to the experienced four-star horses, so I was absolutely thrilled to cross the finish line with him in our first season together.  He came out of the competition feeling very pleased with himself and definitely looking forward to his next four star in the spring of next year!

I have finished this year feeling so fortunate to have a very talented string of horses, and some very exciting four-star horses for next year.  I also have some lovely young horses making their way up the grades and a group of incredibly supportive owners and sponsors.  All in all things feel like they are really coming together and I am already excited for next season...

I hope the winter is good to you all and look forward to blogging about our return to competition in the spring.

Roll on 2015!