To say that Aston faced a few challenges this week would be quite an understatement! Monday and Tuesday saw huge days of 4*S dressage followed by a very long day of the jumping phases on Wednesday then a day of novice on Thursday. Tim and Jonelle had rides scheduled for Friday and Saturday so it was a shame that it poured with rain on Thursday night and after a 4am alarm call and 2 hours drive through the rain it was soggy Aston that awaited them.
Sneaking into the hardstanding car park by the stables did make a difference and by the time Faerie Dianimo (Maggie May) set off for her 8am dressage the rain had stopped. There was still plenty of standing water around and mud was the order of the day. Jonelle had opted for a new try and lunged Maggie May before hopping on just before riding the test which resulted in a clear round within the boards, the first for a long time and a delighted Jonelle with a 28. Since Maggie May was HC in an intermediate section I am sure she knew it wouldn’t count. Faerie Magnifico (George) has been equally as naughty of late and he was wild on the lunge but then he posted a 30 so that was pleasing as well. Curly Girl was good for a 28 and Tomochichi (Chichi) also scored a 29.
A pretty clean start to the day with the dressage being held on the all weather with the big arena usually used for showjumping as the warm up. Arriving at the showjumping warm up with 4 horses to jump in quick succession was another planet entirely as the collecting ring was already a sea of mud with poached take offs and landings at the practice fences. Jonelle kept her warm up jumps to a minimum and felt no need to jump huge fences which some were quite bafflingly doing despite the footing and the horses actually found the better going in the arena a bonus and jumped well. Maggie May jumped an effortless clear, George was jumping really well until the double where he decided when Jonelle moved him up that he was superman and took off a stride early, crashed through the back rail, did really well to recover to jump the vertical out and then finished off his round in a more normal style. No longer is George the slightly stuffy jumper he was last year, he really is beginning to find his scope and power, albeit in his own way! Curly was also allot less dramatic than last year and jumped a solid clear round and Chichi, bred to be a National Hunt horse had no issues with the going but perhaps showed his greenness at this level by having one unlucky rail and sitting on another with his back end.
These four went cross country in fairly quick succession and they all handled the ground and the track with ease. George was the quickest with 12 time but Jonelle wasn’t chasing any prizes and had good rides from all of them. The rain was still holding off and with 4 done and dusted by 12.30 Jonelle had a bit of a break before her advanced dressage on Killbunny Andy after 2pm.
Tim meanwhile had, despite the 4am start, only done Happy Boy’s dressage by this stage and had a long afternoon ahead of him. Happy had done a credible 30 test and then had a break whilst Tim rode three novice tests. Nuances de Jarsay (Frenchie) scored a 33 for his first go at novice, flashy Jarillo (Milo) scored a 31 and the big moving Viscount Viktor a 28.5.
Happy then rocked up to the showjumping just after Killbunny Andy who was in slight disgrace after his 43 dressage. Not entirely his fault to be fair as he could hear the horses galloping cross country and the whistles blowing behind the hedge but he couldn’t see them. Andy is not a small horse but even when he stuck his head up as high as he could he still couldn’t actually see them which distracted him somewhat from the job in hand! He redeemed himself by coping well with what was now becoming bottomless going in the warm up ( I so nearly face planted when just taking a step towards a pole!) and a lovely clear round just picking up a bit of time as Jonelle tried to find the best ground in between the fences. Happy also jumped a super clear and they headed off to the cross country both determined to rectify the fact they never finished their first advanced at Burnham Market.
Happy smiley faces after two lovely rounds from Andy and Happy. Tim’s comment was “I knew he was an advanced horse!” and Happy looked pretty smug whilst Andy just looked as though he had enjoyed every minute.
As Jonelle packed up Tim started on his three novices jumping phases. Milo jumped a good double clear with just 2 time cross country for 10th, Frenchie was a bit caught out by the showjumping not only stepping up a level but also the sea of mud to pick up 8 faults but jumping clear cross country to add stacks to his educational base. Viscount Viktor has more experience and his double clear was good enough for a win which was a just reward for his 7.15 pm cross country start time!
Aston have been good to crack on when many events would have thrown in the towel. Jonelle showed her appreciation on Saturday by spending the duration of the day on pole duty at the showjumping. Pretty impressive considering how busy they are and shows how they really do ‘give back’ to the sport they love.
Tim had advanced horses in the OI which made for an easy day and the showjumping had been moved to the all-weather (again, not a simple task at the end of a long day). Falco, Ringwood Sky Boy (Ozzie) and Spartaco (Sparty) all did solid tests to be right up in the mix. Ozzie’s 23.9 followed by a steady double clear looked like pure pleasure, Falco’s 24.1 and cruisey cross country was foot perfect whilst Sparty’s 22.5, clear showjumping and just 6.8 time was good enough for 5th spot.
A busy but well worthwhile weekend. Check out the video below to see the warm up ring on Saturday…our endless winter continues into a soggy and cool spring.