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Will Furlong - off to a flying start!

10It’s been a pretty busy, but successful couple of months for the team at Ingrams Eventing. El limit stepped up to the mark by winning her first BE100 at Munstead UA.  This was then followed by a hugely manic and soaking wet day at Chilham the weekend after.  I had 5 horses competing on one day which was a mission in itself, but the torrential rain all morning did not help matters at all – the damage was done, we were all soaked!  Luckily the weather didn’t seem to affect any of the horses; they all ran really well.  Funny Boy Fortuna won his first BE100 at only 5 years old after winning the 4 year old class there last year.  El Limit also won her section to make it 2 wins out of 2 for her.  Esprit ran really well to come 4th and Elstar ran a bit slower to come just outside the placings.  The highlight of the day was having my top boy Livingstone back out after some time off.  He was absolutely wild in the dressage, very little ‘working trot’ happened as he was feeling a little flamboyant to say the least.  Nether the less it was great to have him back out and feeling so well. Next stop for the big 2 was Aston Le Walls OIu21.  Pioneer Silvie did a nice test for 30, 1 down sj then a nice slow clear as the ground was on the hard side. L ivingstone was a little distracted by the show jumping next door but managed a 29 followed up by a double clear.  Although the xc wasn’t particularly testing, I was pleased with how both horses ran in preparation for the U21 champs a couple of weeks after. The 2 6year olds; Elstar and Esprit went to Tweseldown, both contesting the BE100.  Both horses did nice tests for 27 and 28 respectively followed by 2 double clears inside the time. There were a couple of decent enough questions for that level but both made it feel easy and felt very confident within themselves - They ended up 4th and 5th. 9We went up to Houghton on the Wednesday morning  to give the horses plenty of time to settle in and get familiar with their surroundings. Pioneer Silvie was drawn early to go as I was a multiple rider.  I was thrilled with her test of 43 which left her in second place after the first half or so.  Livingstone never really settled properly in his test so I was a little disappointed but he still managed a 47 which was a very respectable 8th after the dressage phase.  The XC walked on the soft side for a 2* but after watching some go on Saturday morning it certainly wasn’t going to be a piece of cake.  We had a lot of rain on Friday which was needed and the ground was very good – I was particularly worried about the time after Livingstone got very tired in the mud after losing a shoe early on last year.  Pioneer Silvie came home clear inside the time with a few seconds to spare.  I was delighted with how well she coped at the first CCI2*.  Livingstone was also great going clear inside the time, which proved not all that easy to make.  He finished with loads of gallop left which surprised me a little as he had missed the first bit of the season due to injury. We were lying 2nd and 6th overnight. Unfortunately Pioneer Silvie was sore from a boot rub on the Sunday morning and we made the difficult decision to withdraw her after being held at the trot up.  This meant that it was up to Livingstone to try and defend my title.  He was lying in 5th going into the show jumping which took the pressure off a little but 2nd - 7th were all very tight so I knew a clear round would put pressure on those above me.  Livingstone pulled it out the bag again to jump clear and move up to finish 2nd – I was extremely lucky to have help warming up from Australian Chris Burton who had just come 2nd in the ‘Senior’ 2*.  Although we didn’t quite manage to defend our title, and after the disappointment of having to withdraw Pioneer Silvie, I was very pleased with the end result! 8Mattingly UA was up next - and a first novice for my 6 year old Esprit.  She was a star, doing a 26 dressage leaving her second after the first phase.  Followed up by a nice clear show jumping and clear XC around an educational but testing Novice track to take the win!  She will head off to Stratford Hills next for a nice confidence run at BE100 before going to Brightling for her first BE Novice.  Elstar was also a star winning her BE100 section by 9 points.  She led from start to finish on a 21 dressage and is really starting to get the hang of this eventing malarkey.  She is also going to Stratford Hills before doing her Novice at Brightling at the beginning of July.  El Limit subbed in just to do a dressage test and she did some really sweet work to lead her Novice section on 27.  All in all a very pleasing day out!  It’s a real shame that Mattingly isn’t going to run anymore as it was a really lovely event; everybody was really friendly and there was a good atmosphere.  The XC was beautifully dressed with alternatives at all the more difficult questions which was extremely educational. After Houghton I was chuffed to be long listed on Livingstone II for the Young Rider Europeans in Poland.  Our final trial is at Aston Le Walls at the end of July – fingers crossed!!