“Initially I thought, ‘oh there’s no point getting her fit and taking her there because if Tokyo doesn’t happen, what’s the point in running her legs off?’ And then I said to myself, ‘You enjoy competing and enjoy riding your horses, Megan, that’s why you’re going to go’. My life doesn’t revolve around just going to the Olympic Games. I do get a bit sort-of-on-that-path sometimes, and I have to remember, ‘no, you got these horses because you enjoy riding and you enjoy competing, so let’s have our Tokyo plan, absolutely, but also enjoy your horses and ride them and compete them’. So Wallaby Hill, here we come!”
In preparation for Wallaby Hill, Megan will compete at Naracoorte in mid-November. “They are running up to four-star level there which is going to be amazing. It will be a bare bones one because the Victorians can’t come over, so it will be a very small class, but at least I get to run Candy around there,” Megan explains. “However, our cross country course at home is now so epic and we’ve got some good proper big fences here! I’ve reviewed my fitness program: some of my gallops will now actually be cross country runs. I’ll run a cross country course in my paddock and also showjump the next day, too. So I can put their body under the same pressure as I would at a competition. You need those competition runs to harden them up and get them used to do going cross country and then jumping the next day. I’ve got the opportunity to do that at home, I’m really lucky. I can just get them prepared like that and my cross country fences are all portable so I can move things around if I want to and change the lines. That’s my plan!”
Hallmark Park’s revamped facilities are indeed impressive. The cross country paddock is over five acres in size and has 130 jumps, from very small ones to four-star dimensions. “I’ve spent a lot of time looking at my lines; we put the fences out in a way that one jump can then relate to something else, and make five different lines. I’ve got unending options out there!” Megan enthuses.
It’s clear that Megan Jones has emerged from two testing yet rewarding years with as much motivation and determination as ever, matched with a rational and down-to-earth approach. “I’m not even qualified yet for Tokyo, so Wallaby Hill is my qualifier with Sydney and Melbourne as my back-ups,” she explains. “And I’ve realised that, gosh, even if I don’t qualify, we’re going to have enough high-calibre events over here next year even if this Covid thing keeps going, to compare Australian-based rider to the overseas-based combinations who have already been able to compete at major events this year. As long as we’re doing good tests, jumping clear rounds, and we’re strong cross country, we can – and we have – shown in the past that we can do this.
“If you’re an up-and-coming rider it wouldn’t be so possible. You’d just think, ‘you know what? I’ll wait for next time, I’ll just keep training for next time’,” Megan observes. “But for the likes of Shane, Stuart and I, the selectors know us, they know what we can do, and if we’re producing good things here we’ll do the same thing over there. So that’s the way I think about it. I just have to go and do a good job,” Megan explains.
Home at Hallmark Park, preparation and practise for good – perhaps great – performances continue. Riding eight horses of her own each day, teaching countless lessons, and even finding time for personal training sessions and Bikram yoga, there’s never a dull or quiet moment. With the support of husband James and son Finn, a wonderful team of staff, and companies such as Barastoc, the future is bright for Megan Jones. EQ