Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Eventing Europeans: A golden opportunity for event groom Sarah Charnley

After her success at Badminton this spring, it was no surprise that top eventer, Ros Canter and her ride, All Star B (aka Alby), were selected for the eventing European championships in Strzegom, Poland. Her trusty groom, Sarah Charnley, went along to lend her support and cheer her friend and team mates on. Here is Sarah's account of this incredible trip.

"I always knew that if Ros was selected I would go with Alby because I had done the trip to Strzegom in 2016 when Ros made it onto the Nations Cup team," Sarah explains. "After the final team trial at Aston-le-Walls, Ros's mum rang me at 6.30am that Monday morning to let me know that Ros had been chosen as a Team GB squad member.

Having prepared and packed everything, Sarah and Alby travelled in style, as they made the journey to Poland in Team GB colleague, Nicola Wilson's horsebox. Sarah shared the drivng with Nicola's hubby Alistair, accompanied by Team Wilson's groom, Ruth. They set off on Saturday evening, arriving at the venue on Monday afternoon. "Three horseboxes went out there, transporting two horses and all the equipment. We went by ferry and had pre-organised stopping points with one overnight stay." The support crew were already at the event, so Sarah and her travelling companions were greeted with the stables all set up, bedding down, and the British flag already flying high above them!

"The whole event was an emotional rollercoaster, from finding out that Ros would be riding in the team to getting Alby ready for each phase. In the dressage he gave his all and gained a personal best. I was in tears, but thankfully it was sunny so I had glasses on!"

How were the grooms catered for and were there any social events?
"The grooms stayed in their respective lorries and we ate meals together either in our lorries or in the canteen where we had breakfast and lunch provided. There were no parties, but we made our own entertainment. After the crosscountry, pizza and wine were delivered to the stables so we could celebrate a bit while ensuring all our horses were in tip top condition for the trot-up the next day."

What were the highlights other than the team's success?
"The grooms were invited along to a course walk with [chef d'
équipe] Christopher Bartle, which was brilliant, and we formed a WhatsApp group where we had lots of fun banter during the long journeys there and home as well as at the event itself."

And any lows?
"Not really. Although on the way back, the ferry was so full that we were unable to let the horsebox ramp down so we had to rush about getting fans set up to keep the horses cool."

How would you sum up your experience?
"I am so incredibly proud - especially of Ros and Alby. Goodness knows what her parents must have thought seeing her in her GB tail coat and wearing her official team hat silk. It was an honour to think I was a little part of Team GB! Wearing official team kit was unbelievable."

Sarah, we are all very proud of Team GB including the support team - well done to Ros and the rest of the squad for an incredible few days of competition. Fingers crossed that the success continues to the World Championships next year.

Final team results:
1 Great Britain 113.9
2 Germany 123.0
3 Sweden 128.5

 Final individual results:
1 Ingrid Klimke/Horseware Hale Bob (GER) 30.3 + 0 + 0 = 30.3
2 Michael Jung/fischerRocana FST (GER) 32.8 + 0 + 0 = 32.8
3 Nicola Wilson/Bulana (GBR) 35.1 + 0.4 + 0 = 35.5

Kathryn White is a freelance writer and owns/directs Cathean Ltd writing services . She is a published medical writer and equestrian journalist/copywriter and her customers include pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world.