Sunny and breezy in Belgium for the third leg of the ERM in Arville, the family seat of the Liedekerke family with the quite stunning backdrop of the castle giving the venue a unique atmosphere.
The crew headed out on Wednesday night with Wesko ( Dash) and Faerie Dianimo ( Maggie May) for the ERM CI4*S and with a young pretender on board as well…. half brother Faerie Magnifico (George) making his first international trip for the CI2*S 6 year old class. Not only does George need it to qualify for Le Lion D’Angers this autumn but with it being an age class it also gives a good idea of where the competition will come from this year! I am sure Dash would have welcomed the company but I think George heading off to qualify for Le Lion would have made Maggie May feel a bit old so not particularly disposed towards him! Not that George would care much as he doesn’t really like anyone in particular so maybe a trip abroad may cheer him up a bit!
George has always done a smart test but he clearly felt that the addition of top hat and tails was much more fitting to a boarding school boy like him ( well, he only goes home to Brockenhurst Park for the holidays after all) and he really did show off to lead the field of some 28 horses with a 29.4. Credit to Trisha Rickards as all of her home breds go out showing in hand as babies ( Yes, even Princess Maggie May went to the New Forest Show, can you imagine how naughty she must have been!) so they do see a few more of the sights than most and George clearly took it all in his stride! He has a particularly good canter and having been produced by Jonelle as a baby he is considerably further ahead in his flatwork than most of his contemporaries.
That rather set the bar quite high for Maggie May who has been behaving like a proper brat at her last three outings which, to be fair to her, have taken place in muddy fields with no audience. She took a deep breath after the halt and tried as hard as she could to stay with Jonelle and not give in to her inner voices and did some really super work. Yes, a hint of tension but the warm weather and the snapping flags meant it was worthy of her making an effort and I have no doubt she will be gutted to be sitting on 31.9 as the judges seemed to reward great work with a 7 and ordinary work with a 6.5 for the whole class! At least they stayed consistent throughout with Jonelle commenting that pretty much all the scores were around 3% lower than you would expect and they sit in 6th, less than a pole off the lead.
Tim and Dash don’t have any exploding worries in the arena but Dash can be guilty of trying too hard sometimes and his two errors were as a result of that part of his personality and Tim’s over enthusiasm! The first medium was great so TP asked for a little more in the second and Dash broke to canter…and the last change was ridden so positively by Tim that Dash got a shock and kicked out with is leg! It was still good enough for a 30.5 and third place at the end of the dressage.
Back to the young horse class for Jonelle and she and George pinged around his first CI2*S cross country clear in time to retain their lead. Jonelle was delighted with him and she has a rail over 3rd but not second. George has a bit of a spook thing with trebles in particular but if he is anything like his other half brother, Xavier Faer ( Hugo) he will be sure to jump better on the third day than the first!
The showjumping was on the surface in the late afternoon for the grown up horses and while the time wasn’t as influential as it can sometimes be at an ERM it was still very much to the forefront of the riders minds. Jonelle and Maggie May jumped a super round with Maggie May looking uber confident and they picked up just 0.4 if a time penalty which was enough to drop them a place in this super competitive class. Tim is still cross about his rail in Weisbaden on Dash so he was happy to make up for it with a clear in time and sit in third going into cross country.
Plenty to play for tomorrow and who knows, maybe George can make it a second International win in a week… or will it be one of the grownups?
All cross country action for the ERM is on the usual channel: