[dropcap]C[/dropcap]o-owner of Burlington Stables in Midrand, Anne-Marie Esslinger says she’s extremely excited ahead of this year’s SA Derby: a personal highlight on her competition calendar.
“My preparations for the big event will only start now that the Revil World Cup Qualifier is complete. I plan to compete Alzu Oregon in the 1,50m classes, hoping to qualify to participate in the SA Derby which we won in 2015, and Carinjus in the 1,40m division, in order to qualify him for the Mini Derby this year. In terms of my preparations ahead of the derby, I increase my fast work and interval training on the track (I’ve already done some of this) – then start working on the derby ‘funnies’, doing bank and slope training as well as practice on the St Andrew’s Cross and the Devil’s Dyke. It’s all about building confidence for my boys.”
“My top horse, Oregon, is a flighty animal, and I’m not sure any competitions are his “favourite”! But he is brave at the spooky fences – his main fears are noise and the practice paddock. Carinjus takes everything in his stride and is not easily phased, although he has a lot of “blood”.
When asked what fence scares her the most, Anne-Marie says it’s the bank. “It’s definitely the fence that I’m most afraid of and always need support in training – just because I’m scared of heights. In terms of how to ride it, it’s important to slow the horse down before the edge of the bank so that you can ride forward with a soft hand at the edge. Being fit is also imperative: I go to a bio-kineticist twice a week and walk/run on the treadmill. I try to eat healthy and I don’t do cigarettes, alcohol, tea, coffee, fizzy drinks – but only because I don’t like them (Not because of the health plan!).
On the day
The outgoing Esslinger says that she controls her nerves on show day by spending time on her own.
“I like my own space, to get into the “zone”. I have to remind myself sometimes how talented my horse is, and that we are quite capable of doing a good job around the track built. I find that disciplined breathing exercises do help me to relax. I also plan, this year, to make an appointment with a sport psychologist, to help me with a few other ideas that I have. Normally, correct and good show preparation improves my confidence level. I love this show, I love the “cross country’ aspects of Derby, the endurance, focus and discipline, and the balance and consistency required from horse and rider. I believe that Nicole Horwood has a good chance of winning again this year with Mark White Nissan Capital Don Cumarco – that horse is tops at this competition and he is currently on form.”
Text: Caroline Malan of The PR Machine
Saturday 30 September: R50 – R100 (depending on seats)
Sunday 1 October (the main day): R100 – R600 (five price ranges available: R100, R150, R200, R250 and R600).
Tickets will be available on Ticketpro from Thursday 24 August.
Discounted weekend packages available