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WATCH A RE-RUN OF THE GOLDEN BUCKLE RACES HERE

Day 1 is in the bag !

After travelling all through Monday evening and Tuesday morning, our riders and accompanying party were weary and tired but managed to soldier on to, at the time of writing, 10pm and beyond ! 

Our riders have mostly been allocated their horses and been getting some time in the saddle and some individual warm up time in the arena. Along with settling into the accommodation and sorting out the paperwork, we've all been to the arena and what a sight it is ! This event is stunning, we are truly honoured to have been invited to such a prestigious event. 

Tomorrow our riders will be looking for some extended time in the saddle to get to grips with their new steeds !

Day 2 of the Golden Buckle Event in Malta

We have had another session of 2 minutes per rider to acclimatise to the arena, their horses and the barrel pattern. Its so tough having so little time but they have all done incredibly well. 

The horses are finally allocated and the competition starts tomorrow after the opening ceremony at 11.45am UK time. Eloisa & Sarah will be sharing their ride (Eloisa in Junior & Sarah in 4D) 

Nerves and apprehensions are setting in along with the odd burst of excitement, its a roller coaster of nerves and emotions.  Our 4 Strides UK Team met with some of the professional riders from Team USA who were kind enough for a team photo

Along with the current European Champion, also competing are Ashley Schafer, Jodee Miller, Tyler Rivette, Pete One, Sharin Hall & Brittany Pozzi Tonnozi. 

All but one of our riders have chosen to have an individual 1-2-1 training session with these stars of world barrel racing. These start tomorrow at 9.30am. 

Its another late finish, as a full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony is underway ahead of another early start tomorrow. 

We are totally overwhelmed with the support and encouragement and have bought nearly 20 supporters with us ! 

Don't forget the event is live streamed tomorrow on the link above. 

Day 3 - The Competition begins  - 1st Go

The day started withEloisa and Greg having private 1-2-1 tuition with AQHA Champion Pete One. This was valuable time spent in the saddle on the Barrel Pattern along with gaining some excellent training advice. 

General horse care duties are our responsibility for the hired horses so no time for a holiday, mucking out stables, using the hot wash and managing horse welfare are all number one priorities. 

The opening ceremony went without a hitch and Sally was the flag bearer for the Union Jack. Our team looked amazing in their embroidered team shirts. 

Eloisa took the honours ,being in junior class, of being the first member of team GB to run on her first go. A brilliant clean and tidy first run with a 19.441 put her 10th on the leaderboard and only 1 second away from the top 3 so all to play for in her remaining 2 runs. 

After a short delay it was the turn of our other team riders in the Open 4D class. Greg ran 43rd in order and ran a 18.951 which put him on par with Team USA Rider Ashley Schaffer. Brilliant. 

Sarah was up next, and by her own admission it wasn't the best run but more unfortunate it wasn't a clean run after knocking 2 barrels down. The resulting plus 10 seconds rooted her to the foot of the table but in this format, all is still to play for as after tonights 2nd Go she gets to discard her worse score before running the final on Saturday. Here's hoping for a clean run this evening to propel her up the leaderboard. Sarahs time a 34.476. 

Sally ran next for team UK in 85th place in the running order. A tidy error free run holds her on good ground to build on tonight. By Sallys own analysis and that of our other trainers (Luke & Xavier) she needs to lay of the brakes in the 2nd Go and there should easily be time to gain. Sallys time was a 18.602 just behind Sharin Hall of Team USA. 

4 riders down and 2 to go, and they were drawn in successive draws of 104 and 105 in the running order. Susi ran first on yet another different horse, this is the 3rd horse in 3 days for Susi but if we had faith in anyone to adapt and overcome this hurdle it was Susi ! (she has ridden 7 horses this year alone at 4 Strides Equestrian' clinics camps and competitions) And adapt and overcame she did ! An 18.175 puts her within a tenth of a second of the top 3 in 4D. Not to be outdone, and after a nervous wait due to the arena surface being patched and re-levelled, Mark put all his anxieties and worries to one side and absolutely smashed it with a 18.163. He was so nervous throughout the day as his last training run had ended badly but he dug deep and excelled. 


Mark & Susi's times were just 3 tenths shy of Team USA rider Tyler Rivette.

There's still all to play for later on Friday in the 2nd Go, as the times will allocate the divisions for each rider before tomorrows final run. 

Another late finish meant some riders only getting back to accommodation at 1am and back at the arena for 7.30am, the dedication is admirable. 

The supporters ? Not a lot can be said on that matter other than OMG ! just 15 supporters made the most noise of any fan base. The arena was rocking when our riders entered and that will continue for the next few days. The US Commentator, who incidentally is the voice of the NFR, was enjoying the noise and support and the fans were on the big jumbo iron screen multiple times. Thank you to each and every one of you who took their time and money to come cheer us along. It means so much !  

A shout out to the organisers of the Golden Buckle here in Malta, they have done their upmost to keep the show running smoothly and professionally along with helping with any riders or team requests. The UK has already been asked to return to Malta for the next edition of The Golden Buckle in 2023. Nows your time to get yourself a stetson and some cowboy boots as this time next year could be you on the world stage ! Our sport and joining up with 4 Strides really can take you places and what better honour than representing yourself and your country at an elite level of competition.  

We managed to grab a quick word with each of our riders, seconds after dismounting to get their raw feelings on their 1st Go Runs. These are below the pictures.

Day 4 - 2nd Go

Another early ​start as the riders were at the arena for 8.30am for stable duties and to prepare Susi for her training clinic with Team USA rider Sharin Hall. 

All riders were riding again for their 2nd Go Friday afternoon and evening. Sarah looking for redemption after having 2 barrels down and everyone else eager to improve on their 1st Go times. 

Eloisa was first up in the Juniors. 15th out of 17 to start in 1st Go meant she was 3rd to start in 2nd Go.

The running order for round 2 is a reverse of round 1. The final running order is in reverse of the standings after round 2.


Eloisa ran another clear round with a 19.312  and moved her up to 9th in the placings. 


Mark was first up in the open 4D, yet another clear run and a respectable 19.208 which was slower than the previous night but with how the scoring works, the worse of his two times is discarded and the better time added to his final run time. 


Susi ran after Mark and the rapturous applause and cheering from the Team UK supporters pushed her through to a 18.018. 2nd place in the 4D division and taking home some prize money !! Well done Susi. 


After the previous nights successful clear round, Sally ran next and consistency was the key as she posted 18.589 just 0.04 ahead of 1st Go. Placing her 5th in 4D and just 2 tenths away from the prize money meaning all to play for in Saturdays Final.


Sarah was next up and she was desperate for a clear round after the 2 barrels down in 1st Go. And she delivered ! A 19.039 put her just ahead of Mark and Greg in the standings. She can now discard her 1st Go time and add her Final Time to this 2nd Go time. 


Greg was last up for Team UK. Hoping to improve on his 1st Go time of  18.951 it just wasn't to be and Greg crossed the line nearly a second down. Still a brave and valiant effort and as mentioned, all to play for in Saturdays Final Run. 


So how does the scoring work ? Lets try explain.... 

Thursday is 1st Go. All competitors times are entered onto the leader board. The fastest time is the 1st place in 1D, the next competitor whose time is 0.5 secs behind this is 1st Place in 2D, the next competitor whose time is 1 sec behind 1D is 1st place in 3D and the next competitor whose time is 1.5 secs behind 1D is 1st in 4D. Prize money is available for the top 4 in each division. 

Running order is a random draw. 

Friday 2nd Go is the same as 1st Go.

Running order is reverse of previous day. 

Saturdays final is the time ran on Saturday plus the riders best time ran on either Thursday or Friday. This gives overall placing and again the divisions are split as above and prize money for the top 4 in each division. 

The running order for the final is slowest to fastest from 2nd Go. 

Eloisa is running again for her 3rd and final run on Sunday.   

The fans again were making the most noise in the whole arena and even recruited some foreign support to cheer along. 

1 more run to go. Starts at 4pm Saturday (3pm) UK time and we should be near the front of the running order. 

Click above to watch live. 

Day 5 - FINALS DAY

All the dedication, the training, the commitment and the early mornings and late nights, all came down to this day. Finals day for the Open 4D. 

This running order was reverse running order of the best times so, slowest to fastest from the previous 2 rounds. 

Sarah ran first for Team UK, hoping to put aside her disappointment of Thursday and emulate the high of Fridays clear run. Sadly for Sarah it was somewhere in-between, where as she knocked 1 barrel down but had a great run. With the penalty her time was 25.104 which put her towards the tail end of 4D in the overall standings. Sarah was bitterly disappointed with her performance but could chalk it up to experience gained amid the first time being on the international stage. 

Greg was up next on his stallion Frenchman Dancer. Again hoping to draw on his past 2 clear runs and hopefully run faster than before. A 19.811 left him mid table of division 4 on the night and mid table in the final classifications. Overall Greg was happy with his performances and consistent times over the 3 runs. 

Straight after Greg was Mark, as with Greg, Mark had posted some consistent times and was hoping to muster all his strength and energy to push just a little bit more. A 19.077 was just under a second slower than his best run, and as a result placed him mid table in 4D. Marks mixture of emotions over the last few days have been up and down, torturing himself over poor training runs and having the high of a 18 second run in 1st Go. He has had the time of his life over in Malta and I'm sure it won't be the last international stage we see see him on.

So 3 down and 2 to go, the ladies of Sally & Susi. After 2nd Go Susi was placed 2nd in 4D and Sally 5th. All to play for and some fast runs were on the cards. 

Sally first with an amazing 17.906 which was 4th quickest on 3rd Go Final but added to her qualifying time left her at the tail end of the top 10. Such a narrow time gap in 4D meant just 0.8 seconds separated the top 11. The most important thing for Sally was the clean and consistent runs and pulling a sub 18 second run out the bag. 


Susi was our final runner in the Open 4D and stood a brilliant chance of topping 4D. A 17.670 out of no-where put her in pole position for the 4D Champion but was pipped by just 0.012 seconds and is our reserve champion in 4D. 

Congratulations to all our riders. And especially to Susi Cooper. Prize money and a commemorative Belt Buckle are heading back to the UK !

We have been a force to be reckoned with in the Open 4D and will be back internationally as soon as we can. Our riders talent and ability increases constantly and we can all take great pride in our performance in Malta. 

Saturday night was an after party and rubbing shoulders and sharing a dance floor with the likes of Team USA riders Pete Oen, Tyler Rivette, Sharin Hall, Britney Pozzi Tonnozzi and Ashley Schafer was a unique experience.  

Click the button below to see the final classification.

Eloisa completed her runs on the Sunday with a 19.631 and yet another clear round, very neat and tidy barrel pattern. 

Sunday the supporters turned to support team USA against Europe. Team USA had it in the bag and took the honors.


Thank you for hosting us Golden Buckle and of course Malta. 


Team UK did us proud and left a mark on all those who attended and competed.  

GOLDEN BUCKLE 2022 -MALTA

FINAL CLASSIFICATION

Open 4D Final Classification

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REPRESENTING US IN MALTA ARE

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SALLY HERON

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MARK DAME

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GREG COOPER

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SUSI COOPER

ELOISE ATKINSON.webp

ELOISA ATKINSON

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SARAH PAWSEY

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