The marathon of trucking up the A34 and the M40 then the A361 continued over the weekend and as is usually the case with babies, it was fairly eventful to say the least!
The fact that it was raining on Sunday morning only added to the difficulty of jumping on grass for Tim and Efeba (Kanga) who found themselves at the showjumping at 8.40am having already completed what Tim felt was a much improved test compared to Barbury. The round was, as Tim described, “Slippy and Dippy” in the old lorry park field and it was a tough enough 100 track with few groundlines. So Kanga can be forgiven her jumping faults and it was certainly a learning experience. She set out cross country with more purpose than Barbury but at the water which came up pretty quick at fence 6 the sign advertising a sponsor on the side of the intermediate bank caused her to spook which put them completely off the line for the skinny brush. She may have a 20 on her card but she didn’t actually know she had faulted.
Viscount Viktor ( Viktor) spent so much of Barbury being totally overwhelmed by the occasion he went backwards allot! Huge improvement here as he marched to every phase looking like a horse that knew what he was doing. He was much more focused on the flat, didn’t look like he was on a sugar high in the showjumping warm up but lost a bit of concentration in the arena for a couple of rails. He may be 6 but as Tim says, he is much more like a 5 year old as he has had no comp starts, didn’t go to Spain, all the things that Midnight Galaxy ( Herbie) already has in his back pack as a 6 year old. The cross country at Aston runs over a bridge just before fence 5 when they start in this field and galloping across bridges is not common in Germany! Viktor shot across it and looked a bit shellshocked by that experience and when Tim turned 90 degrees right to a fairly tough corner Viktor was way too dazed to get his line right! Being brought up in Germany also means Viktor will be very familiar with the tales of the Brothers Grim and we all know that in those tales various monsters live under bridges. Tim actually described the corner as “being like a Badminton one on these babies” which I think is a slight exaggeration frankly but, lets face it, he wasn’t having the greatest of days on the cross! Viktor took a couple of deep breaths and attempted the corner successfully before heading on around the track with more confidence.
Herbie showed his experience in the showjumping with Tim’s first clear round of the day but then the Sunshine Tour is quite the thing to have under your belt as a 6 year old! He was giving Tim a peach of a ride cross country until the sunk road out the back of the track when he quite literally paused and squirmed at the top, took a step back which Tim resigned himself to adding yet another 20 to his card for the day before popping quietly off it and finishing the track finding it all pretty easily.
So while the current World No. 2 wasn’t covering himself in glory his wife was having a few issues of her own with the Aston 100 cross country course! Jonelle had two genuine babies in Elixir and C’est le Belle and was feeling pretty good with a couple of good tests and two clear showjumping rounds under her belt. Progress indeed from Barbury. However, Belles cross country score of 40 jumping plus 53 time has to be a record breaker for Jonelle and included a few incidents but the main problem came at the “step of doom” where Belle decided drops were not her thing and as Jonelle quaintly put it ” so we parked up there for a bit” which was not helping the clock. Then a small girl appeared going quite strongly so Jonelle nipped in behind her and Belle decided if the kid could do it so could she but as Jonelle was being a tad worried about getting into trouble for sneaking a ‘lead’ she went back to trot for a bit so the kid could get ahead. So that explains that whopper of a score!
Elixir (Cedric) is a bright young thing and after a nice test and a clear showjumping he headed out cross country only to find that the water came up quite early for him to be expected to get his feet wet. He applied the brakes but this time it was just the one smack before he shot through so a vast improvement on the time it took to get over the hedge of doom at Barbury. But another 20 on Jonelle’s card…..
Saviour of the day was Tim and Jonelle’s work rider, Tayla Mason, who piloted Ginny Rusher and Glyn Norcutt’s little ex racehorse Feel the Vibes to a double clear and flew the flag for the yard.
Monday dawned bright and sunny and a very determined Jonelle headed back to Aston with the very green Fiftyshades of Jarsay ( Frenchie) and the more experienced Diamante ( Monte). Frenchie got off to a cracking start with a 29 dressage and another clear round showjumping before wiping Belle’s record breaking cross country score right off the road when he clocked up 80 jumping and 45.2 time! It turns out that the clever little frog pony decided as he headed out of the start box that he knew all about this eventing lark and promptly took a stride out on the approach to fence 3 which nearly gave Jonelle a heart attack. The rest of his round was quite typically baby horse, he would lengthen confidently into a fence and at the last minute bail out by deciding it would be safer to run off it. He thought he was Murphy Himself four strides out of the Corner of Doom at fence 5 and twice decided upon takeoff that perhaps he was more normal and he didn’t want to die so better to veer left. Who knew you could clock up 80 jumping without being eliminated! A skinny vertical further round the course caused much the same result before eventually Jonelle returned to the finish line and I think you could describe Frenchie’s round most politely as “erratic”.
Luckily for Jonelle her last ride of the weekend was Joanne Pullan’s slightly over qualified 100 Monte. She was in the open class and she defended Jonelle’s honour with a 29 and, finally, the long awaited double clear round Aston. Thank God for Monte!
So not a weekend that will be remembered for much more than how long a road to advanced really is! Its awesome fun watching these guys on the babies as they really showcase their skills and they never fail to make you laugh.