Name: Rachael Claridge
Horse/s for 2014::
Best 2013 Results:
Maarhabi gaining 3rd place in his first FEI 2* at BarburyCastle – 120km
Attempt an FEI 3* with Maarhabi and re-qualify for the Endurance GB Elite squad ahead of WEG 2014
- Use the winter months to check your tack and equipment and repair/replace
- Spend ‘quiet time’ with your horse or pony – life is generally a rat run so try and spend time just watching or grooming your horse and see how it improves your relationship with them in 2014.
- Completing my level 3 UKCC coaching certificate – a year of hard work!
- Escorting Sue Salmon around the para-endurance challenge at the Golden Horse Shoe in May – terrible weather conditions but we achieved gold time and I met an amazing rider ion the process.
Facebook: phoenix field
Blog: @TeamClaridge (twitter)
- “Well Cirencester Park was mixed this weekend weather-wise! I had a lovely 18km pleasure ride on Friday with Maarhabi, escorting two clients and then vetting for the FEI 2* 120km one day ride in the evening. We then had a 3am alarm clock set ahead of a 5.45am start! I remained in the leading group of 12 horses all day and the thunder kicked off as we started then torrential rain until 10am ish, then mist, then blazing sun! The forestry tracks were hideous and muddy, and we pulled a shoe on loop 2&3 so lost time and came 5th in the end; I’m not sure about our average speed as I need to work it out, but we rode 5.45am-4pm with 3 x 40 minute holds. Amazing achievement and Maarhabi looks fab today, just tired like me from the early start! Then, last night, Maarhabi’s half-brother was born at my parents farm, pictures to follow!”
- “After a week on the road with my day job I’m just about to head to Cirencester park to escort two clients around an 18km pleasure ride tonight. I will then vet Maarhabi ahead of his 120km FEI ride tomorrow starting at 5.45am! Wendy Chung, my Mongolian Derby, client will follow me tomorrow along with my horses physiotherapist Holly Kerr to understand more about endurance whilst Adam & Jane crew. Other developments are that my father Peter Claridge is now vice chair of EGB after the chairman resigned. He is also heading up finance whilst mum does PR/Pony club and runs 2 rides! They have a foal due this week ahead of the EGB Boconnoc ride they are hosting on 21/22 June! Fingers crossed I have a successful weekend. Speak soon, Rachael.”
- “Charlie (Maarhabi) is unfortunately on grass rest for the next few weeks after pulling his suspensory ligament somehow between the mud/hard ground over the past month. Thankfully the vet is very positive and has told me to keep his shoes on so we can resume work in September. Meliodas and I were due to escort 3 clients around a 16km pleasure ride at Barbury Castle on Sunday but they all decided there was no pleasure in torrential rain and strong winds on top of the Ridgeway so we postponed the outing and I rode Mel locally (32km incorporating some new gallops a local Swiss event rider has kindly let me use). Mel and I are entered for the 80km EGB Brentor ride on 24th August on Dartmoor where my Mum and her friend Roz will be riding two of my parents geldings in the 32km ride, so a real family affair! My client Wendy Chung is onto her final day of the Mongolian Derby and has held her own against the terrain, weather and horses and we hope to get her back in the endurance saddle in September. My stallion Silver Zenif will be joining Tessa Clark and her Team at West Kington Stud in September for worldwide AI freezing which is so exciting and I hope mare owners in the EU, UAE, USA, Canada, South Africa, Oz and NZ come forward and use him and his rare bloodlines as he’s such a fabulous horse, if a little muddy at the moment! I thought you’d like to see the latest photos taken by Farlap Photography of me riding my parents Ali Shamahl, our 6 year old gelding.”
- “Adam and I are travelling up the M5 in the rain from Cornwall to avoid the holiday makers after spending a weekend at my parents with my client Wendy Chung. Wendy completed the Mongol Derby in 23rd place in 10 days and was the second British female rider home. I’m thrilled as her coach to have prepared her for the event and to have watched her via the tracking system wind her way over the Mongolian Steppe. We met up in Cornwall this weekend to qualify Wendy in her next novice ride as she hopes to achieve open status by the end of this season. We rode my parents’ home-bred geldings Ali and Zar on Dartmoor at the EGB Brentor ride yesterday. Dartmoor was stunning and thankfully dry as we rode the moorland with its heather and gorse, and passed Brentor Church and Widgery Tor. My parents crewed for us in the 32km class accompanied by an equine lecturer from Bicton College who wanted to learn about endurance before her students returned to college in a few weeks. I hope to work alongside Sarah in the autumn educating the students in equipment, fitness, rules etc. Both Wendy and I successfully passed the final vetting with Ali & Zar. Ali achieved a grade 1 with a heart rate of 43bpm after a start pulse of 34! He’s a very laid back 6yr old who gave me a great ride and I have high hopes for his future. Zar achieved a grade 4 as his pulse was 51 after getting anxious about being separated from Ali during the vetting but a pass is a pass and I’m very pleased Wendy got her second qualification. We will take both horses to Camelford to do another 32km ride on 20th September. Adam and I are off to WEG tomorrow so I will keep you posted on how we get on.” Rachael Claridge
Mongol Derby – Wendy Chung, August 2014
Riding the Mongol Derby has been an ambition of mine for the last few years. I first heard about the Derby when Holly Budge talked about her experience of it at The Daily Telegraph Adventure Show in Earl’s Court. At the time, I had not learned to ride but I remember turning excitedly to my friend and saying, ‘That sounds like insane amounts of fun. I am going to do that one day.’
Fast forward to this Easter and I had learned to ride via a six month sabbatical in Argentina on a polo estancia followed by two years of amateur polo in Ascot. I wanted to take a break from polo and was looking to experience other equestrian sports. Reminded of the Mongol Derby, I thought to test my luck in getting a place at short-ish notice and to my surprise, was accepted.
My second stroke of luck was in finding FEI endurance rider, Rachael Claridge to be my Mongol Derby coach. Rachael had been recommended to me by a riding instructor. Before I met Rachael, I did not know of endurance riding nor the phenomenal partnership between horse and rider needed to compete in the distances, across the terrains, at the national and international levels that Rachael had achieved.
Rachael did not seem at all fazed by my request that we try to prepare me for the 1000km horse race with, at most, 20 training days. My London city job meant that I would only be riding on weekends (Rachael is predominantly based in Badminton and Cornwall) so I supplemented this with at least an hour’s cardiovascular workout every weekday. As a UKCC level 3 accredited coach, Rachael advised me on nutrition and the psychology of long distance riding.
Rachael put together a training programme which included various geographies and terrains (beach, moorland, woods, river crossings) in official Endurance GB rides as well as privately scripted rides. Hours in the saddle was key but given the time constraints, we also felt it important to spend time improving my seat in flat and jump work.
The other critical factor was to train on a variety of different horses since, in Mongolia, if I successfully completed, I would be riding on 30 different horses in quick succession. Rachael’s training programme included riding her stunning endurance competition horses Maarhabi, Prince Meliodas and stallion Silver Zenif. We also spent several weekends training at Jo and Peter Claridge’s Phoenix Field Arabian Stud Farm in Cornwall where we rode out on the beautiful, honest, bomb proof horse that is Zar (Azaraell) as well as training on Ali Shahrif testing my balance on an unbacked youngster.
Rachael was also generous and thoughtful in extending her equestrian network to me – Her other clients allowed me to have a sit on their horses and I would also like to say thanks to Selaine from Less Bounce for her donation of supremely supportive Berlei sports underwear!
Four weeks before the Derby, whilst on a pleasure ride in Kent, I fell off a horse and suffered a spiral fracture on my index finger metatarsal. My race ambitions were put on hold whilst I tussled as to whether or not to withdraw from the race. Rachael was fantastic – not putting any pressure on me to continue nor withdraw but allowing me the headspace to work out my own decision. Ultimately I decided to go ahead with the Derby. After taking medical advice on best precautions to protect my hand whilst riding, we rejigged the training programme to help me regain my confidence whilst continuing to maintain the riding stamina we had built.
I travelled to Mongolia knowing that within the time limitations that we had been under, Rachael’s training programme had put me in the best position I could be in to complete the Derby.
On starting the race, I realised that having trained in Cornwall had been absolutely ideal. The geography in Mongolia, at least the parts that we rode through, was quite similar to the geography of moorland. In the valleys there are large sections of grassland with low scrubby vegetation which was generally soft on the horses’ feet. Notwithstanding the marmot holes, riders would make up time in these sections by galloping through. There were a couple of sections of steep craggy uphill climbs – Rachael and I had spent some time on hill work so I felt confident in navigating my horse through these sections, even though the horse seemed less sure! Rolling hills meant that we could canter up but trot and jog downhill. During these sections, I let the horse dictate the speed it was comfortable trotting/jogging/walking down. On occasion I would ride a maniacal horse who insisted on galloping down at full pelt.
Rachael had incorporated some water crossings in our rides and this proved invaluable. Despite the hot weather resulting in many of the lakes and rivers shrinking/drying up completely, there were still several water crossings to be made. Apart from one incident where we got a bit stuck in a bog (!) we successfully crossed various rivers and streams without too much drama.
Rachael’s last pep talk to me was to remind me that in a tricky situation, the best thing I could do was to sit deep, breathe, talk to the horse and if the horse continued to bully me, pull dead tight on one rein. I estimate of 30 horses, I ended up riding concentric circles with five of them before we compromised on a riding partnership.
I also need to give a special thanks to Richard Allen and Nicky Freud who very generously gave me a lot of time and advice on riding the Mongol Derby (Richard Allen completed the Derby in 2011).
I completed the race in ten days. I came 23rd out of 48 riders which to my mind, is a solidly average placing. However I am extremely pleased with this solidly average result. Not having truly considered myself a ‘rider’ beforehand, I do consider myself one now. My best advice for anyone considering riding the Mongol Derby is to research the physical, logistical and emotional demands which will be demanded of you during those ten long days. Nothing will completely prepare you for the experience, which will, at various times, be amazing and terrible in equal measure, but with the right preparation and training, it has a very high likelihood of being the ride of your life.
To discover more about the Mongol Derby visit www.theadventurists.com
Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 – Rachael Claridge
The UAE won gold at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games held in Sartilly, Normandy on Thursday 28th August. The one day 160km race attracted 173 starters from 47 countries to the South West Coast of Normandy for the 7am start. The 5000 official tickets sold out months ahead of the event and double this number lined the course around the stunning route with the majestic Mont Saint Michel at its heart.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum led all the way to win the 160km challenging course, riding his world class filly, the Australian-bred mare Yamamah formerly owned by FEI rider Meg Wade. Sheikh Hamdan defended his title after winning the test event in 2013 riding the last two loops of the competition on his own following the loss of his UAE team mates and 2010 World Equestrian Games winner Maria Alvarez Ponton from Spain who was forced to retire at 106km following a fall on her first loop from Qualif du Poncelet. The weather conditions ahead of and on the day of the competition proved increasingly challenging for the athletes, water logged clay soil followed by miles of sandy beaches resulted in only 22% of starters completing the race. The Crown Prince of Dubai and European Champion Yamamah (formerly Kurrajong Concorde) completed the five loops around Sartilly in a total riding time of 8 hours, 8 minutes and 28 seconds. He achieved an average speed of 19.678, way over the minimum average that had been lowered to 14km/h.
Second was awarded to 21year old Dutch rider Marijke Visser and her grey mare Laiza de Jalima in 8:19.07. This was the first endurance medal for The Netherlands and Marijke was one to watch after achieving 11th place at the European Young Rider Championships in Verona last month. In third position was Qatar’s Abdulrahman Saad A.S Al Sulaiteen riding Koheilan Kincso, who came in on 8:56.23.
Unfortunately luck was not on the side of Team GBR with Catriona Moon and Annette Masterson both loosing horse shoes and failing to make the 14km/h minimum speed before vet gate 3 closed. Annie Joppe and her horse Dilmun were also forced to retire on course during loop 4 which left only Anna Williams and Beth Langley. Both ladies competently completed the course in just under 15km/h but sadly Anna’s gelding Crystal Wissam bred by her mother Jane was eliminated for a high pulse after 160km. Leaving Beth Langley and HS Ametista in 28th place out of 38 finishers with a riding time of 10:44:13. This was Beth’s debute on the Senior stage after securing a team Bronze with the Young Riders in the 2012 European Championships in Belguim.
The tough course took its toll on the team competition with Sheikh Hamdan being the only rider from the five riders from the UAE to complete the race, and France was the only country to get five riders through. It was Spain’s team of three who won gold after a total riding time of 28:56:02. Newmarket based endurance trainer Jaume Punti Dachs, led the Spanish team riders Jordi Arboix Santacreu and Javier Cervera Sanchez-Arnedo across the line. Whilst host nation France rode to silver, this was Jean Philippe Frances 10th championship event for France and the medal complimented team silver at the 2010 Games. France were 12:42 minutes behind Spain, and overtook Switzerland on despite Barbara Lissarrague securing 4th place.
The attrition rate of horses was marred in the early stages by the death of Costa Rican horse Dorada, who hit a tree in an accident 13.6km into the first loop and about 400m from the first check point. Dorada’s rider, Claudia Romero Chacon, underwent surgery for fractures and internal injuries leaving her in a serious but stable condition. Four other riders also sustained injuries, with Uruguay’s Isha Judd suffering a fractured right femur in a fall, Costa Rica’s Alberto Morales Morales, who was taken to hospital for observation after complaining of neck pain having completed the first loop, New Zealand’s Andrea Smith fell from Glenmore Tariq and broke three ribs on the third loop, and Spain’s Maria Alvarez Ponton after falling on the first loop and undergoing a back x-ray after the 3rd loop but returned to the venue in time to watch her husband Jaume Punti Dachs cross the line in 5th place.
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games was streamed live over the internet for the duration of the competition by FEI TV with highlights shown on Horse & Country TV. Lead commentator former Team GBR rider and endurance coach Rachael Claridge said “it was the toughest competition I have seen in many years with the weather and terrain challenging the competitors all the way, a true test of endurance in every sense of the word!”. Rachael was joined by colour presenters British Young Riders Dace Sainsbury and Beth Stokes.
- “Just a quick update to let you know that Prince Meliodas (Mel) and I completed 64km at the Endurance GB Clent Hills ride yesterday (9th) near Birmingham. It was a misty start to the ride but when the sun burnt through the views were stunning (attached). Mel stormed around the course which was stony and hilly underfoot and I was glad of his front hoof pads! We completed the ride with a pulse of 42bpm and a grade 1 at an average speed of 13.23kmph which I was very pleased with due to the technical nature of the climbs and narrow tracks. We are now set for 80km at Red Dragon at the end of the month. I’m off to Cornwall this weekend to ride at the EGB Camelford 32km ride with Wendy Chung as part of her upgrading process from Novice to Open with EGB. We will borrow my parents horses and hopefully the weather will remain kind on Bodmin Moor.” Best wishes, Rachael.
- “I wanted to let you know the latest Endurance GB results for Team Claridge. On Sunday I rode Ali Shamahl in a 32km Novice ride at Camelford, Cornwall. My parents’ home-bred 6yr old gelding excelled himself again, romping across the moor and achieving a grade 1 with a pulse rate of 41bpm and an average speed of just under 12kmph. The second piece of good news is that we escorted my client Wendy Chung riding my parents’ Azaraell, who achieved a grade 3 with a slightly higher pulse of 51 – Zar was a fidget in the final vetting! But a pass is a pass and we are thrilled because Zar also helped Wendy achieve her Open rider status, upgrading from novice, another aim of hers this summer as the Mongol Derby!” Rachael Claridge
- “Well what a wet and wild weekend in Mid Wales! We took Prince Meliodas (Mel) for the 80km little dragon race at the EGB Red Dragon. Mel’s pre-ride pulse on Friday was 36bpm so he was pretty chilled at Builth Wells show ground in the sunshine. However at 2am Saturday morning the gale force winds started followed at 4am by torrential rain! The rain was still coming in sideways as 14 of us started the first loop and rode up the mountain. I was wet through within the first few kilometres which wasn’t pleasant but went from the middle to front group quickly for better visibility and pace around 17kmph. Mel was padded on his front feet so I took it steady on the heather for more traction and we pushed into vet gate one and where the rain ceased. The second 32km loop was getting dryer and I changed clothes completely for the remaining 16km!
By the time we rode into the venue the sun was out and it was a different day by mid-afternoon! I left the last vet gate in 4th but picked up 3rd after a racing finish went wrong for another competitor who’s horse was vetted out at the end. So all in all a very successful weekend in 3rd place @ 14.24kmph and a good end to the 2014 season! We will now wait and see if we picked up any regional or national trophies!” Rachael Claridge
- Nov: “Following the South West Regions endurance awards on Saturday night I came away with three prizes: Prince Meliodas & I won the Best Home-Bred Endurance Horse and we were Reserve in the Top Part-Bred Arab category. I then gained Reserve for the Top International FEI Rider behind winner and team GBR rider Annie Joppe. I am now looking forward to the national awards next weekend. Best wishes, Rachael.”
- December Update: “The Endurance GB masquerade ball was fabulous last night – both Prince Meliodas and Maarhabi clocked up their 1600km mileage awards. Mum was re-elected onto the EGB management board at the AGM. Dad as vice-chair handed out several awards at the dinner which had 300 members in attendance, sold out for the first time! Best wishes, Rachael.”
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