Blair Castle ERM CIC 3SJ & XC and CCI 3 SJ

Blair Castle ERM CIC 3SJ & XC and CCI 3 SJ
THE TOP THREE: 1st: GBR-Alexander Bragg (Zagreb); 2nd: NZL-Tim Price (Wesko); 3rd: GBR-Izzy Taylor (Be Touchable). The CIC3* ERM Podium Finish. 2018 FRA-Haras de Jardy Event Rider Masters. Sunday 15 July. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

Well what a way to run the last international before Burghley and WEG… Tim and Pats Jester held their nerve to jump one of only 3 clear rounds in soggy ( an understatement!) conditions up at Blair Castle. And that meant that they won the CCI 3 star which is incredible.. a second win at CCI 3 star for PJ and a huge deal for the Maitlands who bred him ( Pat, I am sure, is looking down from above and feeling very proud of her namesake).  PJ seems to be making a name for himself in the mud and the rain as this time last year he slogged through awful conditions at Ballindenisk to post his first 3 star win. Congratulations to his owners Kate Maitland, Therese Miller, Jo Preston-Hunt and Philip Hunt.  Tim flagged him up as a potential superstar a while ago and his faith has been rewarded by the quiet and workmanlike cool dude that is PJ.

Cooley Showtime ( Eddie) was one of many in this class to find that slogging through the mud after all the other classes had jumped was pretty tough.  But he dug deep and finished inside the top 10 with a 9th position and posted his second MER at this level.  Top 10 at three star is a big deal and Eddie deserves a bit of a holiday after his sterling efforts this weekend.

To say it was wet at Blair is like saying it is hot in the Northern Territory.  The live feed from the ERM saw a hardy Scottish crowd out and about with the standard August dress for summer in Scotland… raincoats, hoods, umbrellas, stout boots and an expression of mild distaste as the rain ran down their faces.  For those of us from the South it was a shocking departure from the heatwave .  The ERM horses were faced with an entirely new set of challenges from the rest of the ERM season and both Wesko ( Dash) and Cloud Dancer ( Marley) manned up bravely.  The showjumping saw Marley have an early fence whilst Dash blotted his perfect copybook with a careless mistake at the last.

Chris Burton was never really in doubt as the series winner but our guys had plenty to prove.  Tim needed to finish well  to make the podium for the series and Jonelle, despite winning her last three national classes on Marley, wanted to prove he was a true international again.  Doing this on a very foreign pony at Blair Castle, the real test of speed and endurance was supposed to be helped by Marley’s 5 point dressage lead.  Since Marley arsed about in the dressage this advantage was never up there so they slogged around in testing conditions around a track that included all of Marley’s worst nightmares… angled brushes, doubles of corners, impossibly narrow triple brush arrowheads… and the little dude answered every question and came home clear. He finished inside the top 10 and I am so proud of him…although he may have a slight advantage in the pretty amazing jockey that is Jonelle on his back!

Meanwhile Dash was flying round the track and the lines that Tim took on this course proved their partnership yet again.  A break has merely made them stronger ( God, that sounds like a Dolly Parton song) and they flew for the 5th fastest time of the day to wind up in 6th spot which was good enough to see them finish 3rd in the series finale.  It was magic watching them go as always and it was a great end to a series that has seen Tim score points with Xavier Faer ( Hugo) Kincooley Cruising ( Minnie) as well as Dash.

So the long old trip home is made much sweeter by some CCI and ERM prize money and so nice that Colin Price, Tim’s father and Leslie Richards, Jonelle’s mother were on hand to witness it, along with Cam and Darnelle Price who all enjoyed a thoroughly cool and wet weekend.

And tomorrow? Well six horses at Wellington of course!