ELIZABETH POWER: “That’s life – you can’t give up on life you have to keep going”
- 24 March 2020, 11:35
From receiving the heart-breaking news that her Burghley top-10 finisher, Soladoun, had picked up an injury which would see him side-lined for the season to winning a five-star class in the RDS main arena, High-Performance Event rider Elizabeth Power is no stranger to overcoming setbacks and challenges with style
In 2019, High-Performance Event rider Elizabeth Power received the heart-breaking news that her Burghley top-10 finisher, Soladoun, had picked up an injury which would see him side-lined for the entire season. “2019 got off to the worst start ever!” Elizabeth exclaims. “When I found out in January that Soladoun had picked up an injury it was heart-breaking, especially on the back of such a great result at Burghley.”
Elizabeth Power and the then 11-year-old gelding Soladoun scored a hugely impressive ninth place finish at the 2018 five-star Burghley International Horse Trials in the UK. Lying in 37th place after Dressage, they climbed a massive 30 places after the Cross Country where they were one of just four combinations to finish clear inside the time.
“The year ahead was looking so bleak,” Elizabeth continues. “All the hopes and dreams I had pinned on 2019 with him [Soladoun] – trying to come to terms with the fact that they weren’t going to happen was a big blow. I never could have expected to end up having the season that I did, which makes it all the more sweeter looking back now.”
PHENOMENAL 2019 SEASON
On the penultimate day of the 2019 Dublin Horse Show, a hugely impressive performance from Elizabeth and the then 18-year-old Irish Sport Horse Doonaveeragh O One, saw them take a fantastic win in the RDS Stakes. Despite being drawn early in the one round speed class, they put down a marker of clear in 57.41 seconds which proved to be unbeatable.
The win in Dublin topped off what had been a phenomenal season for Elizabeth and Doonaveeragh O One (or Tommy as he is affectionately known). They competed in the 2019 TRM/Horse Sport Ireland New Heights Champions Series racking up placings at Ballinasloe, Balmoral and a hugely impressive win at Tattersalls Ward Union Horse Show where they also came out on top in The Underwriting Exchange Grand Prix to secure their ticket to the Dublin Horse Show.
“He is amazing [Tommy] and looking back on last year it’s still surreal. I’ve had Tommy for quite some time, he is 19 now and I bought him when he was a five-year-old, so he is very special. He has always been super competitive, and we have always had good results, but to just keep notching up the wins was incredible – he was on fire.
“I’ll never forget coming out of the ring in Tatts having won a second Grand Prix in the space of 24 hours – that was unbelievable in its own right – to then be told I had a ticket to the Dublin Horse Show. It was totally unexpected, I never dreamt that I would be a five-star rider competing at the Dublin Horse Show. It was crazy.”
FOLLOWING IN HER FATHERS FOOTSTEPS
Elizabeth is the daughter of Captain Con Power, member of the 1970’s Irish show jumping dream team that initiated the famous three in-a-row of Aga Khan Cup victories at the RDS, still widely regarded as one of the most talented Irish show jumping teams of all time.
Reflecting on her Father’s delight at her five-star Dublin win, Elizabeth says: “Last year, Dad was at all of the shows with me and Tommy, he’s a huge support. But, in Dad’s world there is no other arena except the RDS – that’s the be-all and end-all. Winning there meant the world to him, I’d say it nearly topped Robert’s win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“In the lead-up to the Dublin Horse Show, it was on my mind that this opportunity might never come around for me again. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I just really wanted to make this one opportunity count. I wasn’t going there just to take part and say I’d done it, I wanted to win a class. To be fair to him [Tommy] he picked up three rosettes and, on the Saturday we managed to come out on top. He was quick and careful – it was one of the best days I’ve ever had.”
OVERCOMING SETBACKS IN STYLE
That’s life. Setbacks and challenges are going to happen, knowing that never makes it any easier when it does happen, but that’s life and you can’t give up on life – you have to keep going.
Having gone from receiving the heart-breaking news that her Burghley top-10 finisher, Soladoun, had picked up an injury which would see him side-lined for the 2019 season to winning a five-star class in the RDS main arena on her 18-year-old Irish Sport Horse Tommy, I think it’s fair to say that Elizabeth Power is no stranger to overcoming setbacks and challenges with style.
How does she do it you might ask – her response is simple: “That’s life. Setbacks and challenges are going to happen, knowing that never makes it any easier when it does happen, but that’s life and you can’t give up on life – you have to keep going.”
In the context of the Covid-19 world we are living in today these words carry even more weight. Elizabeth keeps 12 horses at home and manages them with the help of her family. It’s hard work and long hours but Elizabeth’s secret to staying motivated and keeping positive is that it’s all about finding a rhythm.
“We’re all doing fine, there’s just me, my Mum and my Dad at home. We’re doing our bit to protect ourselves and others from Covid-19 by reducing our interactions with people outside home. It’s a very strange and worrying time and I want it to be over as quick as the next person, but I am respectful of the virus and the impact it could have if we don’t all do what’s necessary to try and slow it.
“I’m very lucky to have the facilities at home that I need to keep up my training so Covid-19 hasn’t really changed my day-to-day life other than following the advice from the HSE and the Government about washing hands much more frequently and having to clean and disinfect equipment and surfaces regularly etc.”
My advice is, no matter what, have goals in mind, you have to have something to focus on to keep positive.
“The only thing that I do find challenging, and I am sure it’s the same for everyone, is trying to keep motivated. It’s really tough to continue putting 100% into training and preparation at a time when there is so much uncertainty.”
At the time of interview the 2020 Badminton International Horse Trials had not yet been cancelled and Elizabeth expressed that she would “hate the thought of all the extra gallop work that’s involved in preparing a horse for a big event being carried out for the event to then be cancelled, I would prefer to know in advance so that I could save the horse and start making new plans for a later date.”
Elizabeth had this additional advice for readers: “My advice is, no matter what, have goals in mind, you have to have something to focus on to keep positive. Remember everyone is in the same boat, so use this time to work on things that you may not have had the time to do otherwise and above all else look after yourself and those around you by following the advice provided by the HSE and the Government.”
Here’s to the future and to seeing our incredibly talented athletes back out doing what they do best as soon as possible.
P.S. If you haven’t already seen the very cute video of Elizabeth’s Dad feeding Tommy a banana – check it out now: https://www.facebook.com/PowerEventing/videos/222162875650687/UzpfSTIzNDM3NDc4MzI3OToxMDE1NzkxNjc4OTE0MzI4MA/