Monthly Archives: February 2017

Find Out How Will Furlong is Preparing for the New Eventing Season.

2017 is alive and kicking! 2016 proved to be an extremely successful year for me and my team;
with another 3 international wins at Houghton, Hartpury and Aldon, alongside many national wins as well. I’m very excited to have been re-selected onto the World Class Podium Potential Programme – which will hopefully put me on the right track to help achieve my dreams of representing and winning medals for Team GB on the senior stage. As always with horses, things weren’t plain sailing! We had the disappointment of the YR Europeans with Livingstone II picking up a foot abscess after dressage amongst other little annoyances. Horses are great levellers – which apparently is why it’s such a special sport.

All the horses have wintered really well and have been looking amazing despite the pretty miserable recent weather. I’m not really a huge fan of ‘holidays’ for horses, so they have been kept ticking over gently whilst doing their strengthening work walking through the water at the beach. It’s important they get their ‘down-time’ in order to refresh but equally with spending all that time, effort and money into getting them into shape, it seems rather a waste to completely let them all down. They all feel great for it and we had two winners at our first outing of 2017 at Felbridge Combined Training. Annmichelle Norris’ Adele 97 has developed a huge amount over the winter with help from my physio Steph Brighton and has come out on winning form, whilst Collien P 2 has kept up her impressive form from last year! There will be many more training outings before we start on the second weekend of March at Poplar Park. It’s my first year out of Young Riders and in the ‘big-wide world’ of seniors and I’m very excited for that challenge. Many people in the past have said how hard the transition is but I believe that it’s my responsibility to try and stand out from the crowd and be noticed. Obviously I’m not aiming for Senior Europeans this year but I’m hoping to be selected to represent Great Britain within a Nations Cup squad. This will be a good stepping stone along the way to hopefully be in the selection process come Tokyo 2020. It seems an awful long away now, but it’ll come around much faster than we all think!


Turbulence in the yard…

As I am sure you all know, life in a racing yard is a little like being on a plane ride in the middle of a massive storm: large areas of turbulence which are rather stressful on the nerves, followed by brief periods of calm where you disbelievingly think things might be OK after all! No sport can push you up higher, or swoop you down lower, than the adrenaline filled one of racing, and our week was certainly one of those!

First, I must start by sending my belated condolences to all at Oliver Sherwood’s yard. There is no greater example of what I have just described, but to have such elation at such a brave and brilliant performance from the wonderful warrior Many Clouds ripped away from you so quickly can only be truly devastating. Everyone who loves horses and racing would have shed more than just one tear, and he is a horse that will live on in the memories of so many. I know we all got plenty of hugs that night.

At the yard, we haven’t had anything as gut wrenching, but it’s still been turbulent. Mr Mole and The Doorman went off to Sedgefield last Sunday, where we had all our fingers, toes and eyes crossed that hunting might have worked the oracle on the ever frustrating Mr Mole. His warm – up routine involved listening to recordings of the hunting horn on the phone, which he thought was great, though Door’s eyes rather popped out of his head! Anyway, they jumped off and for just over 2 miles we had the amazing sensation that it might actually have done the trick. The Mole bounded off in front, jumping brilliantly well and really looking happy with himself again. We were over the moon to see some of his former glory shining through and Richie said he gave him a real thrill. However, this is the Mole, and nothing can ever be simple. In heavy ground, he got very tired going three furlongs further than he is used to, and decided to lie down after crumbling at the last, scaring the daylights out of Ben, Alice and Andy. Being Mole, he was, I am delighted to report, absolutely fine and came swinging back into the yard happy as larry. He went back out hunting with the Bedale today (right), and was certainly none the worse for wear! The hunting does, however, seem to be doing the trick and he will have another go on the track once the ground is a little better. Personally I think he just likes the fact that for some reason, the hunting community of North Yorkshire give him endless compliments to fill his already inflated ego!

Door (left) was up next, and proved himself once again as honest as the Mole is tricky! He ran an absolute belter for us once more, jumping brilliantly. A hold up horse, it was tricky for him to make up the ground in that mud, but boy did he try, straining every muscle up the hill to try and catch the leader. Another half furlong and he would have got him, but 2nd again it was for him and his partner in crime Richie McLernon! He has been desperately unlucky in January with two 2nds and a 3rd to his name, and he really deserves a win as he puts his absolute all into it. He is gaining in confidence all the time, and there is plenty more fun to be had with him.

Yesterday, the lorry undertook the marathon trip to Kempton, where we were hopeful that we would be rewarded for the mileage. These hopes were quickly dashed in the first, when the quirky Wibble (Man Of La Mancha) pretended he had never seen a racecourse and never got into the race. The only good news is that when a run is as bad as that, there is normally something amiss, so we will be doing a thorough check of him now to try and find what it is. It was a real shame, as he has shown huge improvements at home – but we hit turbulence this time around!

All eyes were now on Bertie (Skellig Michael) (right) to try and redeem our decision to go a mere 245 miles down the motorway. Bertie is fortunate to be owned by a group of wonderful, entertaining and importantly patient owners in the shape of James Pak, Lynn Douglas, Gary Walker and Nickie Wellingham, and he given them some really fun days out, along with some rather less fun ones when he has been overly distracted by his surroundings! However, the cheek pieces and the might of Adam Kirby were employed last night, and from the moment Bertie jumped out the stalls he found his mind being rather made up for him! He got a nice tow in the race by the leader, and when Adam switched him in the last half furlong he started to engage his motor, creeping painfully upsides before finally clinching a thrilling victory by 3/4 of a length! He was yelled and screamed home by all involved, and was extremely chuffed with himself in the parade ring afterwards. Indeed, I am regretting being in the stable opposite as he still hasn’t stopped telling me how wonderful he is! It was a particularly momentous occasion, as it provided James with a first ever winner in his own colours, which is a really special memory, and something the whole yard was delighted to be able to provide him with. It is also a relief to get off the mark for 2017, end the week in a calm patch, and hopefully it is only onwards and upwards from here!

Until next time,