BEu18 & Supporting the Future of the Sport - Legends, Partnerships and the Heart of a Lion
Frickley U18 championships brought with it memories that will last a life time. We catch up with Scottish team captain, Eilidh MacAuley, to hear all about her amazing week. Just over a week later I think she's almost come back down to earth, but maybe not quite yet! What a superstar pair She and Casper really are...
Our week at Frickley Park National Under18 Championships was truly amazing, and I would like to start off by saying a massive thankyou to all of those who helped Casper and I get there.
The 7 hour journey took place on Tuesday and we arrived at Frickley to find we were one of only two lorries staying in the lorry park that night. With my dressage on the Thursday, and Casper having a reputation for being a drama queen, we decided to travel down a day earlier than everybody else to give him an extra day to settle. This plan seemed to work well as he was unphased by being the only horse in his area of stables, although he began to protest a little as others started to arrive along his stable row on the Wednesday morning, maybe he thought the venue was a private hire!
With the constant flow of Scottish arrivals on Wednesday, I was kept fairly busy by preparing my fellow teammates stables and helping them get all sorted. By around 3pm almost everyone had arrived, and it was time hand out the team kit. Scotland is known for always being one of the best dressed teams and this year our kit looked incredible. Each lucky horse received a rug sponsored by Aberdeenshire Riding Club and the 100 riders looked incredibly smart in our team jackets, kindly sponsored by Apt Cavalier, I must say they did the best job in some fluctuating weather!
We were kept very busy on the Wednesday evening, finishing the night off with an exciting quick nosey round the cross- country course.
Thursday was the first day of dressage, with five of our team members competing, some stunning tests were produced in the scorching heat with myself and Casper last to go for Scotland on that day. After a fairly relaxed warm up Casper rose to the occasion of course and produced a near flawless test with a small jog in his free walk leaving us with a score of 31.5, which would eventually see us in 15th going into cross country. Although this minor mistake was frustrating I knew Casper had tried so hard to contain himself throughout the whole test so was still very proud of his performance. After all, it wasn't going to be a dressage competition!
Friday was another day of sunburn for me, as our final five riders completed their dressage phase with some very impressive scores, this left the team in 5th going into cross country.
Over the two days of dressage the cross country course must've been walked a hundred times by our team, alone, with parents and with fellow teammates, but we can all agree that the best course walks were those led by our amazing team coaches Sue and David. They walked miles and miles that week, sharing their invaluable knowledge and experience.
This advice and coaching showed as our team rode some super rounds that day with 6/10 adding nothing onto their dressage scores for the following day of showjumping. Casper and I were in the middle of the pack and he gave me the most incredible ride, with the minor frustration of that small dressage mistake I really had to focus on the challenge ahead, it was all to play for. I felt his confidence build with each fence as the smile on my face got bigger and he gave me the best ride I could have asked for. We completed the course inside the time to go into 12th place for the final day. Saturday night was our team photoshoot followed by an unofficial team trot up to check all of the horses were happy and healthy after a testing day, which luckily, they all were.
Sunday morning saw team Scotland in 6th, with 3 riders in the top 15. The showjumping was in reverse order and as the tension grew, so did the volume of rainfall! Each team member got absolutely soaked, but nevertheless pulled out some cracking rounds as the first clear of the day came from one of our amazing riders. Although a little tired from the day before, Casper truly pulled it out the bag, jumping an amazing clear round like the true champ that he is. This left us on our dressage score from day one, finishing in 9th place, and myself in uncontrollable tears of joy. A final clear round from Daisy job and Player helped Scotland secure a team 3rd place!!!! And all we could think about was getting to stand on that podium!!! The top ten individual riders had a mounted prize giving and that cheer of our Scottish teammates as Daisy and I galloped past in the lap on honour is something I will never forget, Scotland really is the best team!!!
It was the best time for us to produce a result like this, with it being the final year for our amazing coordinators, Rose and Lucy, we really did pull out all the stops to make sure they had a memorable end to their time with us. I am over the moon we got the results we did this year, but we could not have done any of it without them, Sue or David.
As mentioned we were so lucky this year to have multiple amazing sponsors, Apt Cavalier, Aberdeen Riding Club, Countryways and Avonmill Equestrian, we were incredibly lucky to have all of your support this year.
A thankyou must also go to Dave and Stevie for being there to capture a week of some of the most amazing memories and special moments that will never be forgotten.
And to my parents, a thankyou really is required for their never-ending support and belief in me, travelling half way across the country, getting soaked and sunburnt in the same week, thankyou for every opportunity you make available to me.
A HUGE thankyou to my fellow Scotland teammates and their horses for producing some of the most amazing results, I was thrilled and proud to be captain of such a talented and happy team and we did prove that no team is better than the Scotland team!!
But the biggest and most important thankyou goes to my legend of a horse, with the bravery and ability to make my dreams come true, something I will be eternally grateful for. With the heart of a lion, he really does love his job and I am proud to say he is my number 1 teammate. CASPER YOU LEGEND!!!!!!!!
Photos by Stevie Purves Photography and Dave Cameron Photography