Sunny and warm again for cross country day in Aachen and the people were filling up on the cross country course from 9 am onwards. By the time the first horse left the start box at 9.30 it was a buzzing cauldron of tension as thrills and spills abounded on the twisty and technical classic Aachen route through the crowds.
Aachen is a racetrack of a course with combinations coming up thick and fast and due to the driving track being incorporated into it as well many of the routes were not instantly clear to the horses which makes it even harder to judge. Time is of the essence which adds another layer of technicality and its the CCIO that all the teams want to win every year.
Dan Jocelyn and Jesse Campbell had already gone clear but with time, although Jesse and Cleveland ( Freddie) had picked up just 8.4 which was putting NZ well into the hunt with Tm and Jonelle still to go. Jonelle and Faerie Dianimo (Maggie May) flew out of the start box and Maggie May, who knows her way around Aachen, was flying down the hill to fence two with her ears firmly forward and her eyes alight with the fun of it all.
They made a superb job of the whole course and Maggie May was thrilled to be back in the big time. Jonelle did a phenomenal job as always and they came into the main arena to finish with the crowds cheering them on through the final combinations. Just 6.4 time added and with just Tim to go all to play for.
Wesko (Dash) has been to Aachen before, in 2015, but Tim was using it as a prep run and was an individual so just ran Dash part of the way round. This time they set off with full intentions of completing and they gave a superb display of teamwork as they powered through every tricky angle with not even the tiniest wobble. They galloped into the main arena with crowds cheering and the clock ticking and added just 4.8 which was good enough for the team to pick up the silver medal behind the Germans and in front of the Aussies. Dash finally got to finish Aachen some 4 years later!
Team silver, 4th for Tim, 8th for Jonelle and another great week for Team NZ. Aachen never fails to deliver and it was so much fun as always.
No time to celebrate as the shuttles were revving up to race to the airport and a swift change of clothes saw two groups head to Dusseldorf. We drove through a tremendous storm and arrived in time to pick up some much needed food before the news came through that our flight was cancelled. Delays we can deal with..we were in a bar after all!…but cancellation is another matter! Then began a game of planes trains and automobiles as everyone raced to try and find a way home. Jonelle was quickly onto it and having abandoned plan A which was to rent a car and drive to Heathrow (sounded fine until the £1,700 cost came up!) she decided on Plan B which was to take a taxi and meet up with the horse boxes which had left Aachen not long after us. Various people came up with similar moves and 13 became 6 who retired to the airport hotel and a much needed drink!
The horse boxes got home at 4.10am and the start of the day for Aston Le Walls was just 20 mins later. Tim and Jonelle were due to catch a couple of hours sleep before hitting the road again but that silver medal makes the whole thing so much sweeter!