We are almost ready to leave. I am feeling really nervous but very excited at the prospect of setting off tomorrow morning.
We had our final training session at Leah's on Thursday night and at last we ran a tricky jumping course (from Scott Chamberlain, the US judge) clear on our first attempt! Whooppee! Below is the course plan, a good one to train on.
On Saturday we got up early and headed off to Birmingham for Beacon Show where Zeki had a champ class. Of course I desperately want to win that third ticket with Zeki but equally important to me was to run with positive mental attitude and run clear in a competitive environment prior to the WAO's. I am glad to be able to say that we managed this. Our first class was G1-7 jumping and it was a well thought out course which is very difficult for the judge when it crosses all the grades. Normally I don't take jumping classes seriously but I made myself focus and we ran clear coming 3rd so that was a decent start to our day.
The champ classes were probably a little faster and flowing thatn is my ideal but I was determined to get into the final and we did this by running clear in both the jumping and the agility. Our agility run was a little, shall we say, scary when I put in a cross which I didn't need and got myself into all sorts of trouble much to the amusement of everyone outside the ring. However, I didn't give up and got out of difficulty to finish with a clear round.
We were running late in the final at #16 so plenty of time for nerves. I made myself work on warming up both myself and Zeki which made sure we were ready to run when it was our turn (this is something I really must focus on and implement when in Belgium) and also kept me occupied. The course was a little trickier than the two qualifying rounds which was good. I made a stupid stupid error in the little handling section after the weaves but managed to get through it, however it definitely cost me time and we came 3rd by just over a second. That said I absolutely wouldn't want to suggest I could have won because the winning round by Jennifer Machon and her gorgeous little spaniel was sublime. One of those rounds where you just think the dog is on rails and nothing is going to stop them. I am just pleased that I was so close to the winning round with a bit of pilot error. It makes me take stock and realise what a brilliant little dog I have in Zeki. My job is to guide her better, she always gets things right if I give her the right information. So, I drove home from Beacon happy that I had achieved my aim and run clear in my classes. Sadly, I didn't stop to run my Crufts qualifier as I hadn't had a chance to walk the course and it was a typical Barrie James course, tricky with obstacle discrimination. The sort of course I absolutely love. The queue was enormous as everyone wanted to run once the champ final was over and I knew I had a long drive home.
I took Tidey with me to Beacon and we managed some really positive work around the rings getting her to focus on little tasks and her toy. She managed really well and we didn't have too much screaming.
I decided not to go to Tunbridge Wells on Sunday as the show had moved indoors due to the wet ground conditions. I am not good running on the sand at Ardingly as it's very uneven and wanted to go to Belgium with a positive feeling.
Tamzin stopped over Friday and Saturday night as she had a trade stand at Tunbridge Wells show and it was a bit cold and damp to camp (that rhymes :o) ) We had a good laugh and all made sure we put in multiple votes for Ashleigh and Pudsey in the BGT final on the Saturday night. They won by a pretty huge margin and so deserved it. Great to see a variety act going through to the Royal Variety Performance rather than yet another singer. Well done to a fantastic team.
So, that's it for now. Zeki is bathed and looks gorgeous and we are off tomorrow at about 9.30 am. I don't think I will sleep much tonight.
When I get back I will report on the experience plus lots of other things to catch up with. Bye for now!