A bright and sunny day for cross country morning and so cool to see real live crowds again! It really does make all the difference and the crew out in Aachen were as always a hugely efficient one and prepped and ready for the day ahead.
Basically the kids did good and it was amazing to see both Tayla Mason and Centennial (Chase) and Maddy Crowe and Waitangi Pinterest (Lush) storming round the track giving it their all on the senior team/individual debut. Lush has been with Maddy for a long time and Tayla’s mother bred Chase so it was a real partnership round in both cases.
Jonelle and McClaren headed out looking like class and then had a surprise run off at the skinny out of the first water. Its kind of inexplicable in that Mac was going great, Jonelle was on a clear line and a good stride out Mac cocked his jaw and said “err…no, I don’t fancy jumping that”. Jonelle went back into the water and represented and he jumped it beautifully and then came home clear. Jonelle, of course, said “I could have ridden it better” but I am not sure how, once Mac decides he is going somewhere he goes whether its on the ground or under saddle!
It’s not often Jonelle is the drop score but she handled it like the boss she is and kept on smiling and supporting the rest of the team. Jesse Campbell had an uncomfortable ride on Amsterdam ( Otto) who got pretty low at some of the fences but came home clear with some time and then it was all eyes on Falco who headed out first of the top 10 in reverse order.
Falco has had his blips but he has been turning that corner for a while and I have the utmost respect for his owner, Sue Benson, who is a realist and a proper horsewoman having represented GB at the highest level herself as well as being an Olympic course designer. She has always kept the faith and trusted Tim and today she was rewarded with a top class round under the most pressure Falco and Tim have had to date. Last night Falco was spooked by the carriages, the main arena, the whole Aachen vibe, today he came out a man and swaggered round the track. He was simply brilliant and his rider could be something quite special too! They galloped and jumped and Falco was 101% on every line and every question. He added 4.4 time for eventual 6th spot and Falco’s first taste of an International prize giving in the main arena. He won Millstreet back in the early summer and did his lap of honour to no one but a handful of Price grooms. Today he got the attention he truly deserves and Tim can finally silence some of his critics. Horses like Falco learn on the job and yes, it’s been a long slow haul but this year Falco has really proved himself a worthy successor to the big boys as he steps up to their work ethic. Congratulations to Will Coleman who rode three supercool phases for the individual win that helped the USA onto the team podium for the first time in a very long time.
And hey, if the next rail Falco has is in another 5 years time we can take that!