Finally we got to go eventing proper with the top horses at an international that actually ran all the classes they were supposed to! Belton is the most remarkable place and we have been there before when the ground was borderline firm but as horseboxes found themselves being towed in on Friday morning this was not going to be the case this year. However, a drying wind and for once no rain began to help and when the sun came out on Saturday the entire venue transformed into spring and the going was as good as we have seen in a long while.
It was just what the horses needed and Team Price had, on balance, a hugely successful weekend with lots of boxes ticked. Tim kicked off with a win on Friday when he piloted his own and Jonelle’s Spartco (Spartacus) to a win in the intermediate. Spartacus therefore went from zero to hero in a matter of weeks as he was the unfortunate victim of Burnham Market when he missed his novice run, had to go straight intermediate and fell foul of his first proper triple brush arrowhead in the water. No problems here after Tim’s diligent schooling and training and a nice qualification for Gatcombe’s Intermediate Championships as well. Providores ( Bruno) clearly wasn’t listening to Spartacus as he banged on about how cool it was to win as the girls and boys actually feed you carrots as opposed to washing you down with raised eyebrows and mutterings of dog tucker when you run out. In the CIC 2 star he bagged a decent 33 dressage and only lowered one rail which Tim described as “virtually a clear round” ( Not entirely sure about that but we like the positivity!) and then Tim was enjoying the thoroughbred gears and high speed cruising speed cross country up until the arrowhead in the water where Bruno had two drive bys. As visions of greeting his owners with the great news that Bruno had a top placing vanished Tim got Bruno to understand the question the all important third time and cantered home. As he said, all the showjump practice had paid off and it is still a learning curve for Bruno. Spartacus is living proof that these things need to be trained!
Falco has a bit more experience under his belt and his CIC 2 star performance was pretty much foot perfect. He scored a flashy 27.9 on the flat, jumped a superb clear in the showjumping and sped round the cross county to come home just three seconds over time and picked up third spot. He looked very smug upon his return as well he might! He upgraded to advanced in the process which is always a cool thing to do and he also booked his ticket for the intermediate championships. I am not sure he is aware that there is a massive park bowl at Gatcombe below the Little Gatcombe venue but since flying up and down steep hills is not really his thing he will probably never get to see it!
One horse that is as much the opposite of Falco as you can get is super star and yard legend Ringwood Sky Boy ( Ozzie). If Falco is the sturdy public school boy with a full tuck box and a good expense account then Ozzie is the boy from the rough estate that never got fed as a kid. Ozzie also learnt “flight mode” at a very early age! He simply gets better and better and as Tim moved him from the advanced to the OI as he was so cool at Burnham Market he got to have a bit of fun around a track that was like a novice for him. A 32 dressage and a double clear ticked all the ‘last run before Badminton’ boxes and his showjump round in particular was a highlight. This really could be the year that Ozzie backs up his Burghley form at Badminton.
Kincooley Cruising (Minnie) was having her first start for 2018 and she kicked off her season with a very polished performance in the OI. A 26.1 saw her lead a classy field of advanced horses in the dressage and then a lovely double clear adding just 6 time was good enough for 3rd place.
Ascona M ( Ava) was Jonelle’s warm up ride on Saturday in their first event together for the year. Ava behaved in the dressage for a 30.7 and then warmed up for her showjumping round in bits and pieces as the SJ steward was determined to stick to drawn order but then got confused about what actually was drawn order. Ava then jumped the first fence so exuberantly that she put in quite the display of airs above the ground before fence 2 which Jonelle sat brilliantly! That was where the 8 time came from and she just tapped one rail for 4 jump faults. Cross country she was simply magnificent and they both looked fabulous.
Sunday was all about Jonelle and Tim was on the ground to help her out. Well, when he wasn’t off doing Dad things with Otis that is. Harriet and I ended up out on the cross country at one point with an empty pram which got us some fairly strange looks until Tim eventually rocked up with said baby!
Kindred Spirit ( Joey) hasn’t seen a big event since Blair Castle back in August but he was pretty pleased with being there! A 34 test followed by a single pole and just one time in the showjumping was a cool way to begin the three phases and then after starting out a little bit green cross country he got all his old confidence back and came home looking the real deal. Jonelle was delighted with him and pronounced herself “glad to have the old Joey back” which was a nice thing to be able to say.
Classic Moet ( Molly) was delighted to be able to finally join the party after the shock of having to canter round Larkhill novice on Monday as some form of practice which Jonelle said was caused by “desperate times calling for desperate measures!”. She thus kept her natural enthusiasm under wraps in the dressage for a 31.4 for not only a personal best at that level but also third place. A really super clear showjumping followed and then what can only be described as a brilliant cross country round where they cruised (Molly’s cruising speed is significantly faster than any one else’s!) round for just 3.6 time. They posted the fastest time of the section by six marks ( some 15 seconds ) which shows that the fastest mare in the world is back on track! An emphatic win for sure, leaving NZ riders Andrew Nicholson and Dan Jocelyn trailing behind her by more than 10 marks. Go the girls.