I don’t even know where to start writing this ! I am sitting in JFK New York airport waiting for my flight back to the UK after completing my first ever 100 miles, 160kms, FEI 3* ride on the amazing Cleopatrah – We came SECOND ! I am still stunned and speechless !

We flew into Atlanta and as we drove up to the ride venue at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, USA, we could have been in the UK. As the rolling hillside of the Cherokee range unfolded around us we were surrounded by what looked and felt like a typical English summers day. The trees are all full of leaf and azaleas blooming around us. The countryside there is just stunning and we felt very at home. As usual I was with Andy Thorne my husband and long suffering crew.
Once again we had an early start in the dark at 6 am, and despite a last minute decision to take my riders light off my hat – note to self, just switch it off next time ! Unfortunately our Head Crew Skip, had it half off by then and of course it got stuck half on and half off so we were a minute behind the pack heading out on the trail. I was riding with Jeremy Reyonds on Chanses, and of course I was again riding the superstar Cleopatrah. This is the chestnut mare owned by Reynolds Racing which I have competed on the last two times in the USA, having already done 2* 120kms (75 mile) rides on her. I absolutely love riding her, she is a super, forward going, easy mare, and a joy to ride.
We headed off to the trails and although undulating there were some really deceptive long uphill climbs that twisted and turned through the woods, also encountering a LOT of tree roots and stones and rocks along the way. The down hill sections was just as twisting and windy, and all in all hard work for horses that have been working on the flat in Florida. It is a real testament to the Reynolds team for training them so well for this ride.
We progressed easily through the first loops – with Cleo consistently vetting very quickly, with a regular pattern of 56 bpm and 52 bpm before and after each trot up.
All was going well, but as we got towards the penultimate loop Chanses was beginning to get a little stiff, and to everyones disappointment vetted out at the end of the penultimate loop. This left Cleo and I to go it alone ! We headed out first with a 9 minute lead, but all that climbing left to do. We knew the loop as it was a repeat of the penultimate. By this time Cleo was tiring so we took the long climbs very steadily and at about half way round the rider behind us overtook on one of the uphill sections.
I am delighted that we crossed the line in second place and cannot thank everyone who helped us through the day enough – the amazing Crew team led by Skip, and including Heather, Lyn, Lyn and Mark. Jeremy of course for the ride around everything except the last loop, and last but not least Andy my husband.