“We have had so many shows this year that I feel that my horses are fairly fit and ready, so I haven’t done much ‘derby prep’ – it has just been training as usual. Our last big show which was at Revil Stables in Polokwane, was really good for Quidchin and Carlson who both jumped clears in their Championship classes. Quid was 4th in the 1.40m Grand Prix and Carlson was placed in the 1.30m champs. Fountain of Love (affectionately known as Lilly) had an early pole in the World Cup Qualifier and I retired her to save her for Derby. She had a scrape on her leg on Wednesday so I only did the 1.35m Accumulator which resulted in her being a little jumping fresh for the big class. All three horses had their last show at the Riders Series this last weekend (16th September).”
Her three rides for the 5 day derby show will be Fountain of Love (Lilly) in the 1.50m, Quidchin Bellignies Z in 1.40m and Carlson 113 in the 1.30 classes.
“In terms of my preparation ahead of derby the horses will work as normal except for a few practices of derby type fences. They are bold so I don’t overdo it; just remind them about what’s coming. Looking at Lilly specifically, she is a Thoroughbred so stays fairly fit. I try to get her strong and fit without getting her over the top and wild. The fitter she is the more wild she gets! She is also made to run long and flat. I will work on exercises over taller verticles as we need to practice jumping ‘up’ and not ‘long’. She is happy to attack all of the fences so I need to remind her how to jump them properly so she doesn’t hit them as this makes her tense. For example the dyke takes balance, straightness and control not just scope so I like to get a practice in so Lilly knows exactly what to do with her body to master it. I also need to remember how to ride the plank at the bottom of the bank. This takes body control and coordination that is harder than what we usually do so I like to practice and get the feel of what I need to do in order to ensure that the horse can clear it. Lilly is truly the horse of a lifetime. She brings her A-game every time she steps into the arena. She is a plain little horse that grows huge on big occasions. The derby brings out her best as she loves the big open gallops and flying. She goes into the arena on pointed toes. I always tell her that they are bigger today and ask her to help me.”
Energy till the end
The one fence that scares Bronwyn is the second last jump.
“The big white double is tough as the horses are tired and need to dig deep. I try to be as straight as possible, strong and accurate. I do do fitness work outside of riding and try not to eat everything I see!
I find it difficult to control my nerves on the big day; I can get anxious so I try stay calm. I like to watch the early classes as it focuses me and makes me feel competitive. Other than that I don’t do much other than warm up. Dominey (Alexander) is my coach and is great with the psychological aspects of competition; he helps me stay calm and focused.
I have jumped the Derby four times so now I try to focus on enjoying the moment. I really just want to do my best and give my horse a nice ride. It’s a lifetime dream come true just to be in the arena around that track so I really want to make the most of it, soak in the atmosphere and love every moment of pure ability and partnership that my horse gives me. It’s the ultimate feeling when your horse gives you their all for such a long time over huge fences and it doesn’t come around often in life so I plan to love every stride and jump. What I love most about Derby is the way the horses amaze me every year! They are the most phenomenal athletes and I love watching them at their best.”
Ones to watch
In terms of watching her fellow competitors, Bronwyn says that it’s the big guns like Barry Taylor and Dominey Alexander that are her favourite.
“They know their horses so well and it’s a different kind of week for them. It’s beyond inspiring to watch them in tune with their horse when they step into the arena to win. If they were competing, my money would’ve been on Lisa Williams and Discovery Campbell as they are seriously on form. The partnership is like no other at the moment: Lisa is totally hands on with every part of her riding and horses life. Campbell is connected to Lisa’s every thought and they do everything as one, even if he is being wild! And they love to compete as a pair!”
Text: Caroline Malan of The PR Machine
Saturday 30 September: R50 – R100 (depending on seats)
Sunday 1 October (the main day): R150 – R600 (Price ranges available: R150, R200, R250 and R600).
Tickets will be available on Ticketpro. Discounted weekend packages available