No autumn sunshine this morning, a cool and cloudy day for cross country with rain on the horizon. Jonelle and Fernhill Kankan set out as the pathfinder and it was apparent from the first combination that Kankan was a bit blown away by the crowds and she spooked her way down the track. The first lake crossing comes early in the short at fence 6 and after jumping a fence at the top of the steep slope the 8/9 year olds had very little time to assess the double of brushes in followed by the biggest expanse of water they have ever seen!
Kankan didn’t even really register the first of the brushes for a 20 but then popped through nicely. She was good at what would become the problematic second water but Jonelle was using all of her skills and experience to help her out and at the out of the coffin in the woods Kankan downed tools for a couple of drive by’s and said “Enough for today!”. Bred in Ireland Kankan is your original country girl who would be far more at home at Glastonbury than Marbella. She went very green in the grounds of the chateau at Le Lion d’Angers last year and Blenheim Palace has just put her eyes on stalks again after great runs in Ireland and Bicton. One would have to agree Blenheim is a step up from Bicton!
Not many horses later came Viscount Viktor, fresh from his 4th at his first 4L in Mallow and a good run at Cornbury Park. He was looking super until the second water where he was the first of many victims of the corner in the water. A big brush spread on the downhill approach followed by 7 curving strides to a brush corner sited in the water and so many horses didn’t lock on the corner at all. Viktor skipped past it but was super genuine to come back around and jump it and Tim described it as half naughty, half just green. He ate up the rest of the track and made the rest of the questions look easy so fair play to him as part of his on going education.
Around midway through the class, just as Jonelle commenced her warm up on Senor Crocodillo (Diego) the heavens opened. If there is one thing that Jonelle hates it’s riding in the rain! Still, ever the pro, off she set with Diego around a track with allot of opportunities to run past a skinny or a corner if he so felt like it. Diego never looked left or right and lay down a super clear with just 6.4 time for eventual 12th. They looked super together.
Tim wasn’t far behind with Jarillo (Milo) who was also getting drenched. Only Piggy March and Ollie Townend had made time so far ( Ollie on a 9 year old that already has Luhmuhlen 5 star under her belt!) and the rain wasn’t going to help but Milo was spectacularly good and answered every question with his usual scopey athletic way of going for a solid clear just adding 2 time which ended up with him on the podium for third. When he went quick in Millstreet it looked little hairy coming home but he has matured this year and at Blenheim he just looked superlative in all three phases. He is the ultimate modern event horse and very exciting for the future.
Chilli’s Midnight Star (Ollie) headed out when most of the spectators had given up and returned to the main arena for the 4L showjumping. Ollie wouldn’t give much thought to that, he’s all about jumping through the flags and he was a credit to his season with Jonelle as he never deviated from a line and looked confident and un phased throughout his spin. He added 14 time with only his second international outing together and a credible move into the top 20.
Tim was close to the end of the day and he had swapped his xc top for a raincoat as he set out on Chio 20. Chio is powerful, green as grass at the level and probably one of Tim’s more unpredictable rides! He has had his moments at some ditches and had a naughty drive by at his 3L in Mallow earlier in the year but if he went out a boy at Blenheim he came home truly a man under a peach of a ride from Tim. He answered every question with honesty and scope and looked pure class from start to finish. He added 15 time for eventual 18th and one of his best weekends to date with a big step up to 4 star.
4 out of 6 in the top 20 is not a bad strike rate and most importantly all 6 horses coming home safe and sound with a big box ticked in their education. Just a couple of one days left and then its into the autumn three day season full on.