Bicton deserved.. and got…a beautiful day for the cross country. They had bravely gone ahead with just the 35 starters and they were rewarded by a massive gate that sent us straight back into the proper realms of 5 star and it was amazing to see crowds eating , drinking, watching, milling and most importantly, not a mask in sight.
I don’t know what the gate figures were or the Horse and Country TV passes amassed but it sure looked and felt like the most normal thing we have seen since March 2020. The early pics were not great with David Doel’s horse running out of fuel at the last water and Ollie Townend falling off at the ABCD combination but Tim and Ozzie unsurprisingly looked pure class as they set out on Captain Mark Phillips first foray into 5 star at Bicton.
A pop up 5 star. An unknown for horses and riders and an unusual thing…as Pip Funnell said, you normally know whether a horse is a Badminton horse or a Burghley horse or a Pau horse or a Luhmuhlen horse but what is a Bicton horse?
Well, as it turns out, it is the ultimate endurance horse coupled with a heap of experience and a world class rider. Tim and Ozzie were as foot perfect as they have ever been apart from Ozzie ‘wearing a bit of timber’ going into the rail bounce ditch bounce brush arrowhead coffin.(Basically a double bounce.) He barely touched the rail but it collapsed on one side and automatically gave Tim 11 penalties.
Lets be fair to Ozzie. If the 11 penalties rule had been in force his whole career its fair to say he would have amassed a few. But its hard on a ‘millennium’ to grasp that now you have to be super careful at the cross country as well as the show jumps. Hell, it took Ozzie a few years to work out that the show jumps had to be left up so his casual attitude to a simple rail xc is very understandable. Ozzie thinks he did good, we are not going to tell him he did not but its really annoying! He now sits in 9th with 6.4 time and so much to play for in tomorrows SJ. Piggy leads with her Badminton 2019 winner but they had 4 down at the summer 4L at Bicton so I don’t think she will be super confident tonight. Really, truly, as always at 5 star….anything can happen.
On the plus side the sun shone brightly at Bicton ( It didn’t in Marlborough), Jonelle went down yesterday and Harriet and Abel and Otis arrived today to make it a proper family affair after Otis’s debut couple of days at his first school. Time flies ay?!
But what makes it super special is that Tim and Ozzie, for the umpteenth time, set out on a 5 star track and just delivered the goods. Its the stuff of fairy tales, the stuff of dreams, and the amazing story of a cheap horse that nobody wanted that has never missed a days work but most of all, its the story of a partnership between a rookie horse, a rider with unrivalled horsemanship skills, a bit of desperation, a lot of bonding and totally unique partnership.