A trip down the M5 to Devon for Team Price on Friday with 5 intermediate rides for Tim on board the truck. Bicton try very hard to entice riders down south with several different classes on the same day, very reasonable on site stabling, a great canteen and a friendly and helpful attitude. Tim had really strung out dressage times with nearly an hour between each horse which is a rare luxury with 5 although as Tim said, he knew that it was suddenly going to get crazy busy when it came to the jumping!
Pats Jester (PJ) was first off the truck and he scored a respectable 32, just pipping Smooth Emperor (Gus) who was on a 33. Kindred Spirit (Joey) and Kincooley Cruising (Minnie) were in the OI, Joey knuckling down for a 32 and Minnie blowing the judges away for a 22. Cekatinka (Tinka) also won the dressage in the AI section with the only score inthe 20’s for a 27.
Bicton had worked hard on the ground but there is only so much they can do when it has been such a dry Spring so after Minnie showjumped clear Tim sacrificed the win for the future and settled for 14 time for 3rd place. Gus just tapped a rail out and cruised cross country for 8 time and 7th place, Tinka jumped double clear and picked up 12 time for 3rd spot.
Joey picked up 8 faults showjumping but was giving Tim a fabulous ride cross country until the roll top off the bank out on the far side of the track. To be fair, he gave Tim a great feeling as he launched himself into the air and kicked out behind as he is want to do with his exhuberant and bold cross country style. Half way down to the landing Tim realised that this was not something that was going to end well so he set about getting himself into the “brace” position… or rather, the move seriously fast out of the way position! Having scrambled to his feet Joey decided he may as well check out the rest of the track and set off in a cool loping canter to see what else lay in store at Bicton. Meanwhile Tim was trying to mobilise the friendly but slightly overwhemlmed fence judges who were animatedly relaying all the action back to cross country control over the radio which was not moving things on any quicker. Tim had another ride waiting in the collecting ring and knew he was the last of the class so he managed to persuade the judges Joey was a retirement, that he needed a ride back to the start and a doctor in place to confirm he was fit to ride his last horse and that Joey would come home when he was good and ready!
PJ was having his own run of fame as well. Having been randomly drug tested at South of England in the novice he was also selected for testing at Bicton. Tim really did not have time to deal with that scenario or anyone to spare to go with him so it was beginning to feel similar to Hambleden last year when we were trying to get through 8 jumping phases on 4 horses in an hour and a half and Hugo suddenly got selected for drug tetsing!
The feeling of heading for the deck with the horse behind you is not a nice one at the best of times but when you have a 4 star horse sitting in the USA waiting for you its much worse! Thankfully all walked away unharmed so now its just Hambleden with a couple of novices to go…