Harrogate’s Hazel Towers felt she had a pretty good handle on her eventing career when quitting her job as a brand manager for an umbrella company.
“I should have done it sooner!” admits the 30-year-old who stopped working for Blooming Brollies in a bid to branch out in her equestrian dreams.
It is then, envisaged that running not one but two horses at this weekend’s Bramham Horse Trials is a sign of bigger and better things to come.
Despite having only turned 30 in May, Towers is already preparing for a third crack at the CIC three-star event at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials having finished 30th on Simply Clover in 2014 and then 18th on Simply Smart last year.
Simply Clover also qualified for the event in 2015 but had to be withdrawn through injury.
But two years later Clover is back at the event in which she competed in 2014 and joined by Simply Smart as Towers shoots two darts at a CIC three-star for the third event in a row.
Just two months after a resilient Towers broke her arm, the rider’s two star horses both competed in the CIC three-star at Belton Park International in March - where Clover was 79th and Smart 82nd.
The pair then both took a huge step forward to finish 19th and 22nd respectively in the CIC three-star at Chatsworth International last month.
Bramham will now present a third double assault on a CIC three-star in succession – and after quitting her day job for this very reason Towers is intent on proving that the initial 2017 success is only just the beginning.
“I feel like it is the start of things to come,” Towers told The Yorkshire Post.
“I was really cool about Chatsworth and I didn’t really feel the pressure as much as I have done in the past. I felt quite comfortable and quite at home.
“Yes, it was one of the biggest tracks I have ever ridden around in my life and I think only 25 per cent went clear in show jumping so for Smart to get a clear was brilliant.
“But I don’t feel like I am at the top of my ladder yet.
“I feel like I am still climbing and still learning.
“The plan was always to try and get them both up to CIC three-star level and keep progressing and now they are there.
“The aim is just to keep going as I am doing and try and get them both four star.
“They are both fit, they are both sound and they both did really well at Belton and Chatsworth so at Bramham we will hopefully get a good couple of runs and then on with the rest of the season after that.”
Reflecting on her first full year as a full time eventer, Towers pondered: “It was a really good decision.
“I really liked everyone there but it was a means to an end at the end of the day.
“I had grown out of it and I think this was the path I was going down.
“Sometimes I think I should have done it a bit sooner but now I am ready and I have built sufficient reputation to be taken seriously in the equestrian world.
“It was a really good job and it was mainly the financial implications of leaving a job and obviously it is very, very expensive doing this.
“Running one at this level is costly, never mind two!
“It was always going to be a case of can I make it work and with a bit of help with people like CNG, who sponsor me, it’s working. I am also doing lots of teaching and riding for people and schooling horses and things and watching the pennies!”
Plenty of pennies will now be on offer at Bramham where Towers will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of world no. 4 Andrew Nicholson who won the flagship CCI three-star event last year on Jet Set IV.
The New Zealand rider has three horses entered for duty this year with Byrnesgrove First Diamond and Swallow Springs entered in the CCI three-star, with Urma BK representing the Kiwi in the CIC three-star.
Towers will provide two strands of opposition and is quietly confident of gatecrashing the top ten.
“Obviously we have all been around it before so we have got that advantage,” said Towers, who hopes to add more horses to her growing stable.
“The way they jumped at Chatsworth, despite having a silly 20 penalties, which I couldn’t have helped, gives me lots of confidence for this level and above
“Smarty just got distracted by the crowd and if she hadn’t have done she’d have been seventh or eighth.
“They have got the potential to finish in the top ten, both of them, in theory anyway - going on their last two runs and the way they are feeling.
“But if I can get round safe and home in one piece – that’s the main thing."