Rachel let us know a couple of weeks ago that she and Billy have qualified for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton Horse Trials (formerly known as the ‘Grassroots’ competition) at Firle International Horse Trials in East Sussex on 18th August. They finished 5th in their section and are understandably over the moon. Rachel has never qualified before and has never even attempted to, so she cannot wait to get there.

To ensure he’s not a ‘one trick pony’ and to improve on what Rachel says is their weakest phase, we caught up with them when they were recently competing at Hickstead.

‘Billy picked up four faults in the class. He went very green on me, which they tend to do at Hickstead!’ You may recall that Hickstead is like a second home for Rachel, so not a daunting place for her as such – until you come to the warm-up area for the show jumping. ‘It’s terrifying – there are about a hundred horses warming up in a massive arena, with eight fences across the middle. You have to pick your way across. I managed to jump one upright at 80cm, then an oxer, and by the time I’d come round to have another attempt it had been whacked up to about 1’50. I gave up in the end and retreated! We’ll come back tomorrow and do a couple of classes and see how we get on.’

Rachel says that she and Billy seem to have dressage ‘nearly sussed’, so she intends to spend the winter show jumping, ‘Because then when you go back to eventing the jumps look tiny! British Novice looks about 1’50, and you have fifteen fences to contend with whereas it’s only eight with eventing.’

Since March, after the snow and through the super summer, Rachel and Billy have managed to compete in at least one event per month. They went to the National Riding Club Championships at Swalcliffe, where they came tenth with the Horsham and District Riding Club. They stormed around the cross-country, which Rachel was told was one of the toughest courses around including two water complexes with A, B and C elements. Now they’re aiming at the BE100 at the South of England event next month.

‘Billy’s keener on the harder ground, so we’ve been enjoying the lack of boggy ground, which he’s not so fond of.’

Regarding qualification for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup, they’d apparently qualified at Rackham as well but didn’t even realise. Then at Firle, they definitely had Lady Luck onside, because only the top six went through, Rachel and Billy came fifth, with not a great deal of penalties in between the top of the group.

‘As I drove home in the lorry, my friend was sitting at home watching the results come in live on the computer via the BE results page, and WhatsApped me to say ‘Don’t crash, but you’ve definitely qualified!’ She was competing the next day so was able to pick up my dressage sheet and my Grassroots qualifying rosette, which is very exciting to have!

‘We’ll have two more runs at 100 this year, then focus on show jumping and dressage until the start of next season.’

Billy continues to thrive with the help of Animalife's Vetro Collection. He’s been feeling amazing all season. I give him Vetroflex Healthy every day, and then add the Vetrofen Intense sachets before a competition or if he needs a bit of a boost, as it ticks all the boxes. We’re really grateful to Animalife for their continuing support and love to be part of the Animalife family.’