The three Team Price horses looked a picture at the jog this morning and Vitali showed he has not lost any of his opinions when it comes to having his say and despite some sassy moves he trotted up looking like he had just arrived. Bango (Uno) looked amazing and Classic Moet (Molly) belied her 19 years and literally steamed down the strip proving unequivocally that she most certainly deserved her spot in the line up.
A long old wait for the afternoon showjumping, not helped by the fact that the morning session of just 8 riders produced just one clear jumping and none in the time! Packing, sorting, organising, hand grazing all make the time fly by and suddenly the horses were going up to the main arena for the last time this week. Hats off to the girls: Kerryn Edmans, Lucy Miles, Meggan Hodder and Tayla Mason who rocked up to help on Friday for the weekend.
Bango (Uno) has jumped some great clear rounds at Burghley but today he was still in ‘cross country mode’ and try as he might, Tim just couldn’t shorten his stride enough for the showjumping arena. Uno is nothing if not game and he thought lengthening down to the next element of a related line was right up his street but it doesn’t make for careful jumping. Three down kept him well inside the top 20 (17th) but he is a phenomenon…. which other horse do you know that could come to Burghley and tackle it head on after one OI in 12 months?!!
It had been openly discussed by the three riders, the BBC, Burghley TV and every man and his dog that the top three, Vanir Kamira (Piggy French), Vitali and Molly are not the greatest of show jumpers. Vanir Kamira are proven Burghley total stand outs and Vitali joined those ranks yesterday with his incredible cross country round on his debut. Molly needs no introduction. There were very good rounds from Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On and most importantly, from Tom Jackson on his lovely grey in 4th spot to put pressure on the top three….none of whom was delighted by that at that point!
In went Jonelle and Molly and the first half of the round, including the bogey fence, no.2, was a case of ‘fly, Molly, fly’ and she was giving the fences plenty of air. The treble has always been her nemesis, usually the middle or the last but today she caught the in and then one more fell for 8 faults which, at 19, is no disgrace and in reality since Molly has always been a bit of a 4 faulter, not a total surprise. She didn’t care, she thinks, quite rightly, she is a superstar and showed her teeth to her adoring crowds one final time.
In came Tim and Vitali and he had the snaffle on from his lovely clear at Gatcombe where he won the Open last month. He boomed the first and tipped the second and the Burghley dream was pretty much gone but Tim rode as though it was still on and despite that Vitali still had another couple down. 3 down was enough to drop him below Tom Jackson but he remained a whisker in front to Jonelle and has a hugely exciting horse for the future as not many Burghley debutants wind up on the podium.
Piggy looked like she would rather be in a shark infested sea without a float rather than in the main arena at Burghley but she did have 9 points in hand. Vanir Kamira (Tilly) likes to rattle her way around like Molly and she had an early rail and continued to scuttle and skim her way around until she jumped the second last when it was clear, bar a disaster at the last, that she had become one of the coolest club of joint Badminton and Burghley winners.
Tim ended up 3rd, Jonelle 4th. What a result for horses not even on the short list for the World Championships! They pick up valuable world ranking points, good prize money and a great run up to the big one in some 10 days time. And huge congratulations to Piggy and Tilly…they embody what a true Badminton/Burghley horse is. No one would have been queuing up for Tilly, like Molly, as a young horse: they don’t particularly move, they dont have a conventional scopey careful jump, they dont, as Jonelle says, have even a length of stride or scope cross country that marks them out. What they do have, in spades, is heart. Heart that they give their all, determination and absolute bravery, an immense desire to do the job and an unquestioning belief that the big 5 star is exactly where they belong.
Jonelle also won the inaugural Avebury trophy, donated by Rosemary Barlow in memory of her beloved Buddy who adored Burghley and won back to back 3 times with Andrew Nicholson. Its for the “outstanding cross country ride of the day” and is judged by none other than Captain Mark Phillips. We may have seen the last of Molly at Burghley but, having talked about her teeth so much ( well, she does love to flash them at people in the least appropriate moments) my brother asked if I meant like the donkey from Shrek. She is a bit like “Donkey” to be fair…she would chatter incessantly if allowed and is really annoying allot of the time but, when it matters, Molly is the mate you want on your team on cross country day more than any other.
And special thanks as well to the Horse Health team, Christiana Ober, Alice Dorman and, this weekend, Andrew Nickalls who just cant keep away when Molly needs his special services! They are troupers and we salute them.