An interesting course and fast and perfect going with sunshine ( even if it still was freezing cold in the wind!) made for the traditionally large crowds on cross country day at Badminton. You would have to be mad to have even attempted browsing the trade stands as it was a case of tinned sardines in the walkways and as always, with the stables being a safe haven and the collecting ring being a “great unwashed” free zone, you always feel you are so privileged to be an integral part of it.
None of this has any influence on Bango ( Uno) who looks outwardly like nothing bothers him unlike Ringwood Sky Boy ( Ozzie) who wears his emotions like a badge of honour. Uno looked normal, behaved normal and then as Tim saw a forward one at the big ditch and brush at Fence 2 he took it with his customary scope and then bolted! All of a sudden Tim is pretty much out of control on track and that is not a nice place to be. “The fences will back him off” said someone knowledgeably in the tent but we knew better…. Uno has 6 star scope!
Uno can run off with his head high, or when Tim anchors him, put his chin on his chest and still run off. Tim managed him as far as the bogey coffin when he jumped in, ballooned the ditch and never really got his eye on the angled log on the right hand side side for a drive past and 20 on his card.
As only Tim can, and on only a horse like Uno you can do, Tim decided that instead of the walk of shame home accompanied by the Beaufort Hunt outrider, he would school round the course as far as the bottom of the lake so he could trot back to the stables. I have never, ever, seen anyone school round Badminton but Tim put Uno in a hand canter ( which is his safe place) and popped the fences until he got to the bottom of the lake where he splashed thorough, went past the triple bar and then did a few trot circles in front of the house before walking back to the yard.
Uno now thinks that the lake at Badminton is easier than a BE 90 and finished full of confidence. He also cannot understand why every other finisher is so tired tonight! Tim has lots of bit options and plenty of plans so its onwards and upwards and no harm done to horse or rider.
A long old wait until the end of the day for Ozzie. Tim spent the time in between eating smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, chatting with some mates and owners in the collecting ring closed circuit TV tent and playing with Otis. Laid back doesn’t even go close!
By the time he and Ozzie set out just Chris Burton, Andrew Nicholson and fellow Kiwi Ginny Thompson and her TB mare Star Nouveau had made time despite the fast ground and the quality field. He and Ozzie were on a mission and as Jonelle and I looked at each other we knew it was going to be a classic TP and Ozzie round. Don’t get me wrong, they were magnificent but sometimes, as Jonelle said, Ozzie doesn’t waste any seconds in the air! We watched them go straight everywhere and the trust that those two have in each other is one of the most amazing partnerships in the sport. It really is all hail the King as Ozzie, yet again, made time around one of the toughest tracks in the world. He is the most unlikely of heros, he is tall and gangly with a marathon runners body, he is a worrier, a bolter, a quirky and possibly bi polar personality and he may even be on the Spectrum but he never ever says no and he trusts Tim with all his heart. And his heart is as big as it gets and on top of all of that he is just the coolest horse to know.
So at the end of the day we have Burto with two in time ( what a feat), the record breaking Andrew Nicholson, Tim and Ozzie and the new star on the horizon, Ginny Thompson and Star Nouveau ( Paige) who belied all the odds to rise from 57th to 8th with her clear in time!
Tim lies in 6th place and its all to play for.. he may have a better record at Burghley than Badminton showjumping but Ozzie is like a vintage wine and just gets better and better!