Hot in Belgium today and we are pretty jealous! It’s not cold here but grey and cloudy again.. after our one day of fleeting summer yesterday! Some of the horses looked a little warm and tired at the end of what is a surprisingly hilly and tough cross country track in Arville but rest assured, our guys were more than fit enough for the job in hand.
It is a twisty track ( but not quite as much so as Weiesbaden as the event is not hampered by the boundaries of the Park here) and being built by the legendary “King of Forward Angles” Rudiger Schwarz there was always going to be the opportunity for a run out.
Drama from the beginning of a small but mighty field and those who were trying to run inexperienced horses too fast and those who tried to make a difficult turn by breaking up the rhythm paid the price. Unlucky too for some…Chris Burton’s undoubtedly superclass winning round dropped him to third as despite being only one of two to make time he had dropped a pin out at fence 8 so had 11 added. As he said, it was a shame for Quality Purdey as she has been out since Aachen last year and didn’t really deserve it.
Jonelle and Faerie Dianimo ( Maggie May) hung out at the start looking like the cool kids that they are. For a hot mare Maggie May is surprisingly laid back about the start of cross country, even after a whole year away from the big time. She and Jonelle wandered around on a loose-ish rein while Maggie May basically purred like a cat with the delight of what was to come. They walked through the box and then they were off with Maggie May making a far better job of the big fence into water early on than she did at Nunney last week! She locked onto simply everything and although she shakes her head and argues a bit it is never out of anything other than a desire to get on with the job. They added just 6.8 time for a cracking run and despite a fair few tiring up the hill Jonelle had quite the job to stop Maggie May in the short pull up at the end! They went into third and then rose to second when Burto added the 11 penalties to his score.
Having said that it did open up the door for our very own Mr Price to storm round on Wesko ( Dash) and also make time to take a convincing win. Dash really does have it all… the ability to win a 5 star yet zippy enough to finish 1st and 2nd at the only 2 ERM runs he has completed. Jardy last year saw him runner up and back in the game for sure but this year he simply stole the show with the best exhibition of galloping and jumping I have seen from him since before his injury in early 2016. Testament to Tim of course… he has taken much time and care in the slow and steady return of Dash to top level and he was determined to wait until 2019 to do a long format with him. 18 plus months out is a long time and Fatboy Dash had more than a few extra pounds to lose on the route back! The same could be said of Maggie May too.. she has nearly as good a 5 star record as Dash and she has also excelled herself this weekend after a year out of the International scene. Although it does have to be said that Maggie has more of a supermodel figure and simply NEVER would be seen as fat in public!
After the excitement of Jonelle and Burto swamping Tim with champagne on the podium as he graciously accepted his first prize it was back to work for Jonelle as she still had to jump Faerie Magnifico (George) in the CI2*S class. George did manage a fairly mighty spook on the corner between fence 1 and 2 but, as predicted, he is pretty similar to Xavier Faer ( Hugo) and he was better on the third day! Despite being shown the Liverpool on arrival into the ring he still managed to have it down (So Hugo) but since his flashy test and XC he had a rail in hand he still won it. He is the closest in the half brothers and sisters to Maggie May in that he is small and dainty but he has not so much more brainpower than Hugo and has the same ‘spook’ that made us compete Hugo at Dauntsey as a 5 year old and leave him there for Beanie Sturgess to hunt for 6 weeks. Beanie told us he was one of the best hunters she had had and we looked back in askance but she really was the making of him! He was always bold xc after that baptism of fire with the Beaufort Hunt but he still remains on the spooky side showjumping to this day, except, of course, when it really matters like at Badminton and Kentucky where he has finished 3rd twice. And he is brave as he has just jumped a massive cross country the day before and is still on a high!
George got his glory moment and galloped round at the head of affairs with a fancy rug and everything. I hope he makes the most of it as when Maggie May has to listen to Dash and George swopping winning moments on the way home she is going to beat the hell out of both of them!
On a serious note… well really. Tim has won Tatts, Luhmuhlen and Arville back to back. That’s a pretty cool streak to be on when you have just been crowned World No. 1 and no one deserves it more. For Jonelle to sit through the indignity of Maggie May’s one day tests and keep smiling ( sort of!) and go out there and nail it a year after Luhmuhlen is supercool. Actually, just having horses like Dash and Maggie May to pull out still is such an amazing place to be and I simply cant imagine eventing life without them.
Although I am sure George can. He is going to be one over tired, emotional, grumpy ( always) and so over the grandparents by the time he gets back to Mere. Listening to tales of WEG’s and Olympics are simply so boring when, to quote A A Milne “Now we are six”. Hmmm. Watch out Jonelle!
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.”