Hayley wrote this on her facebook page, which bought us all to tears: Hayley Parker / June 20 I am writing this update with a very heavy heart but also a strong feeling that I have made the right decision. My result at Bramham was unfortunately not a qualifying result for WEG 2014 as I was a couple of seconds over the time needed in the cross-country phase. It is crazy to think that a couple of seconds have stood in the way between Cuppi and I competing at WEG, but I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, and in light of the recent tragedies in our sport, I accept this. I was given the opportunity to take Cuppi to Poland to get another qualification next week but after much thought, I really felt that this was not the best decision for Cuppi. I could liken it to running Comrades in two successive weekends for my South African friends. I have really put a lot of thought into my decision and Cuppi is my number one priority through all of this. I know if I took him to Poland, he would give me his all and I cannot take that risk if he should still be having time off after Bramham. I went home for a few days after Bramham to regroup and have put firm plans in place for our next goal, Olympics 2016. I feel that both Piggy and Cuppi will be at an ideal stage of their careers to take this on and to go there not just to participate, but to compete! I am grateful that I have the horses that I do and know that this setback is only going to make me more determined!
in the start box could use my it. He was number 105 to go so I worked out that we were being set off every three minutes and the course took 10 minutes to complete. Much to my team’s horror, I gave him my stopwatch! This was probably a silly decision in hindsight but I thought if I was in the Frenchman’s position, I would be desperate! The tension was elevated even more when I heard over the loudspeaker that the Frenchman had fallen at the furthest part of the course and was being taken off by the ambulance! I tried very hard not to panic as there were only two horses left before I was set to go! Luckily I had an old stopwatch in my lorry which my mum sprinted to go fetch – this was probably not the wisest decision I made that day, but definitely got me in the zone of getting on with the job!
from being disappointed! We ended 8th overall in front of a huge crowd that was very fond of Cuppi!
Cuppi was incredible around the cross-country track. I got held on course as the rider in front of me broke a frangible pin. This was the first time this has ever happened to me and it was a really difficult task to keep Cuppi’s focus, especially with the thunderstorm going on.There were points on my course where I couldn’t even see the jump in front of me due to the rain but somehow, Cuppi just locked on and gave me everything he had. It was the most exhilarating experience of my riding career, hearing the crowds go crazy when you get through a difficult complex, knowing that Cuppi was tired but he just wouldn’t let off. There is also no better feeling than crossing that finish line with a clear. I knew I was slow going around but I rode with my head and my heart and Cuppi gave me his soul. I am in awe of him!
So how do you get over a goal that you have been working towards for many years and haven’t acheived? You make one that is even greater! I have put firm plans in place for securing my place at Olympics 2016. One may think this is a long-term goal, but with the qualification period starting in January 2015, there is no better time than the present to get into gear!
His showjumping round the next day was incredible; he was exhausted from the day before but still was trying to give me a clear round. We unfortunately had two down but I was very far 104
SPORTING HORSE Issue 19
As any athlete goes through, one has to deal with what happens when the dream doesn’t. Bramham was not a qualifying result for WEG and I was given another opportunity to go to Poland two weeks later to get that ever elusive CCI3* qualification. It was a tough decision, but I decided against taking Cuppi. Cuppi is my number one priority through all of this and no matter how much of a disappointment not going to WEG is, there is only one Cuppi. He is a horse that will give you everything he has, even when he is tired and I was not prepared to take that risk. I went home after Bramham to regroup and take everything in.
I was recently at Hickstead Derby to support Jade Hooke and was having a good think about what makes a winner. It amazed me that someone like William Funnel, one of the greatest show jumpers, who was riding a horse with enough scope to jump out of the stadium, had several rails down in the Derby. Then comes along Trevor Breen from Ireland on a horse that has one eye and he goes and wins it! It occurred to me that even the greatest rider, riding the best horse will not necessarily bring home the gold; it is the rider that is one with their horse and has an unspoken bond that will always come out on top!
Published on Jul 15, 2014