What a week - what a Badminton!
It was a first Badminton CCI**** for Imogen, and a first ever 4* for Ivar Gooden (Sir Charles). All anyone could have hoped for was that they would both come home safe and well, but what they actually achieved was an incredible DOUBLE CLEAR, a 21st place finish and to WIN the under 25 prize!! What a rollercoaster of emotions that was!
Whilst Imogen kept her cool and rode two of the jumping rounds of her life, Dean paced - 26Km on cross country day alone, and Kim provided the emotional statuses.
The team added up the key team of Imogen, Charles & Chief Groom's age and it was still less than that of Sir Mark and Andrew!
Imogen couldn't actually put into words just how special the feeling was to complete her first Badminton, with the feeling just still so surreal, and she certainly didn't expect to jump a double clear on a 10 year old in his first ever 4*, especially being only 23 herself!
But that is exactly what they did. Only 31 combinations jumped clear across the country with falls, retirements and refusals a plenty. Imogen and Charles produced a brave, polished and determined performance to carry each other around one of the most demanding Badminton's anyone has seen in a long time, displaying what a true partnership they are. The incredible cross country performance moved them up 36 places ahead of the final show jumping phase.
Only 10 combinations went on to produce a double clear from the showjumping - Imogen and Charles being one of them! That performance then moved them up a further 11 places to finish just outside the top 20 in 21st place.
With everyone's emotions running high watching the pair of them go around was terribly nerve wracking for the whole team, because everyone wanted to see them get round clear and safe. But what an incredible, exhilarating and emotional feeling when it all came together!
So onto prize giving...with Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, in the main arena at Badminton! Imogen always hoped there may be a chance, but never really thought it was realistic, so to be crowned the highest placed under 25 rider and be included in the main prize giving was VERY exciting!
So for now, a MASSIVE THANK YOU to absolutely everyone who has helped in any way, there are really far too many people to mention but it all means so much and we are all truly grateful! However the biggest thank you has to go to Aivar Ward and Terry Morris for allowing us to look after, produce and ride such a special horse.
Now to Chatsworth...