TEN MINUTES WITH....FLORA - 24 April 2011

Express Eventing 2010 Champion Flora Harris who this evening lies in 19th place at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials has announced her plans to defend the Express Eventing title in 2011 riding Law Choice, her winning horse in 2010 who she is competing at Badminton this weekend.

This year the compact exciting version of the sport of eventing is to be rolled out nationally. The Express Eventing Series 2011 will see dressage to music, cross country and showjumping being completed in one arena. The series is to be integrated within five prestigious and established annual shows throughout the country. Although Flora receives automatic qualification to the Final at the Horse of the Year Show, she has already announced that she hopes to compete at one of the regional qualifiers..

Our reporter Louise Elliott took ten minutes with Flora to discuss how the sport has helped her, and her thoughts on how it could develop in the future.

LOUISE ELLIOTT: Was your Express Eventing win up there with you biggest achievements to date?

FLORA HARRIS: Absolutely, yes. Representing Great Britain on the Young Rider Squad was an obvious highlight, but in terms of furthering my career and really challenging myself I genuinely think that Express Eventing has been a huge achievement for me.

LE: What was it that attracted you to Express Eventing?

FH: The prize money on offer is an obvious draw, but it’s also a great showcase of young eventing talent and I wanted to be part of that. The prize money is greater and more achievable than traditional eventing.

I really think it’s an attractive concept, and I think it could be the way some of the sport goes in the future. We want to see the great three-day events continue, but it’s an expensive sport to put on at places like the Olympics and this offers a more viable, accessible and spectator-friendly alternative. If this is the way the sport goes, I want to be ready for that.

LE: What did Express Eventing 2010 mean to you?

FH: Winning Express Eventing last year was a huge step up for me. It was great fun competing but it also created so many opportunities for me too.

Since Express Eventing I’ve signed new sponsorship deals as a result of the competition so commercially it’s been great, but it’s also boosted my confidence a great deal and I suppose it has raised my profile and made me more well known.

LE: Did you know you were going to win in 2010?

FH: I wasn’t so sure that I was going to win, but I knew I was in with a chance. I really wanted the win, and that’s why I did so much training. I thought I was in with a good chance of having success of some sort.

LE: What is the key to doing well in Express Eventing?

FH: The main factor is training. If you train for it you should do well. You can’t just turn up and expect to do well, a bit of cross country schooling just won’t cut it. I spent hours going up and down the motorway for dressage training, and I even went back to Millfield School where they set up a simulated Express Eventing course complete with pupils as a crowd, so that the horse could get used to the atmosphere.

Training the horse to be able to turn and look at The next cross country fence very quickly is absolutely key. I was 100% focussed on the competition, and it paid off. It’s not as easy as you might think.

LE: What do you think makes a good Express Eventing horse?

FH: The horse needs to be a good mover for the dressage, but it must be a horse that can cope under pressure. It needs to be a quick horse, but it must also be very careful. Being sharp and adjustable are key factors too.

LE: What did you think of your Express Eventing experience?

FH: I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, and it was something I became incredibly focussed on. Doing the dressage to music was great fun, and it was good to watch the other competitors do theirs too. I chose a show tunes theme, and used the music from the Rocky Horror Show, and some Liza Minelli. I’m hooked on the whole sport now and really want to do more of it.

LE: What are your plans for 2011?

FH: I want to have a competitive first run at Badminton. I really want to break into the 4 star scene this year, and have a top ten placing in the CCI at Bramham. Another big aim will be to retain my Express Eventing title too.


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