Back to eventing at its best at the “new” Cornbury Park which last ran in the nineties and was always a destination event back then. The Park is mentioned in the Domesday book ( 1086) and the house is first mentioned in 1337 with one of the current wings being built in the 1660’s. Steeped in history with the backdrop of Wychwood Forest (which was an ancient Royal hunting ground for deer ) it really is an incredible privilege to be there and revel in such amazing surroundings.
David Howden has a 10 year lease renting Cornbury Park form the current owner, Lord Rotherwick, and his vision of bringing the event back has spared no expense. The David Evans designed and built track wound up and down the hills and through the park with every single fence beautifully decorated with flowers and the usual Evans team fence extras such a big wooden dragonflies at the water.
The dressage was some 10 minutes hack away from the truck park and was a proper hike on foot if you missed the buggy! Several horses were accompanied by some fairly tame deer in the morning which some coped with better than others but the hack was worth it for the beautifully laid out arenas. Tim began his day with Xavier Faer who posted a 32 and then found himself at the showjumping before 9am which he thought a bit tough! He jumped a lovely clear before revelling in his spin around the cross country track which had plenty of questions and proved to be a good fitening run for a build up to Pau and added just 2 time for 8th. The ground was great, the whole course was strung, there were three waters and a decent coffin and masses of skinnies in both wooden and brush form.
Jonelle started her day with Faerie Magnifico in the 3*S international dressage arena and found herself with an unusually fresh George to deal with. George jumped on Hickstead’s hallowed turf at the beginning of the week and he was pretty full of himself there too. It seems to have gone to his head as the usually utterly reliable ‘always in the top 3 after dressage’ George went down the centre line bucking and turned into a similar version of his half sister Faerie Dianimo as a 7 year old and pushed the boat out for a whopping 45.8. I am pretty sure that has scuppered his Le Lion d’Angers 2020 qualification but I am hopefully wrong!
Said half sister, Faerie Dianimo (Maggie May) was next out for Jonelle and she too turned in a PB with a wild display for a 48.9. It was most entertaining to watch from the sidelines and I thought she might actually break 50! Jonelle remarked that she couldn’t remember ever having ridden two dressage tests in a row that added up to 94.7! Maggie May then jumped an immaculate clear round in the showjumping and purred her way around the cross country to just add 5 time.
Tim then put up a quite stunning display of a true partnership with a near perfect three phases on Ringwood Sky Boy (Ozzie) for a well deserved win. He added nothing to his 24 dressage and it was poetry in motion to watch all of it. Congratulations to Varenna Allen who so loves this guy.
Jonelle declared herself very happy to be on Grovine de Reve up at the dressage who is much more rideable and their 30 score was much more respectable. Reve was also pretty smart in the showjumping and he added nothing in either jumping phase to finish in 4th.
Falco was happy to be back out after his mini break in Poland and flashed his moves for a 22.7 up at the dressage. A superb clear over the poles and a cruise around the course for 6.4 time was good enough for 3rd.
LVS Movistar (Joey) and Bango (Uno) had to wait until well after lunch to get their turn and whilst at opposite ends of the field in terms of experience both the chestnuts worked their socks off for great results. Uno posted a 21.4 which is another PB before his double clear and 7 time left him in 7th and Joey really tried for a 25.9 and a double clear that left him in runner up slot in his intermediate section.
The winner of that section was Jonelle with Killbunny Andy who went one better with a 25.5 and completed on that for his first win with Jonelle and owners Terry Miller and Connie Edmundson. It was a good place to have a win and he really earnt it. It was nearly a family affair with work rider Tayla Mason and Centennial (Chase) actually beating both her trainers on the flat with a 25.2 but a rolled pole and 6 time left her in 4th spot but a great result for both of them.
Royal Roxey was Jonelle’s late afternoon ride and having waited patiently all day she strutted her stuff for the dressage judge with yet another PB for a 20.5. Two rails and some time in the showjumping meant she wasn’t going to take the win but she also enjoyed her cross country round and ticked all the right boxes.
Saturday saw some classy novices out and Viscount Viktor is one of the smartest. He did his usual beautiful test which rather inexplicably scored 31 and then was a bit green in the showjumping to have the out of the double and the treble. The last of the treble fell repeatedly as horses gained ground on their way through and Viktor is a big lad as well! Tim was happy and said he just needed more gymnastic training and he did jump some beautiful fences. Cross country was a bit of a Tim Price masterclass to watch as he schooled around in a lovely rhythm and the leap over the ditch at the coffin was simply massive! He really does look like a proper horse for the big occasion.
Diamante (Monte) is a bit less dramatic that Viktor but she has a fair bit more experience. A lovely test for 25.8 left Jonelle in 2nd and a good double clear just adding a couple of time meant she held that spot. Monte just has one more novice left before she moves up to intermediate and she looks very very ready for it.
Jonelle then had Elixir (Cedric) to look forward to and a couple of minor differences of opinion in the dressage left them on 35.3. A quite impressive crack at the showjumping was only marred by the last fence hitting the ground yet again and then they headed out to try their luck on the cross country, still searching for that elusive clear that we all know Cedric has in him.
And no surprise really that Cedric decided to come to the party at such a beautiful event. He jumped around beautifully adding 10 time to his score and getting his first clean sheet and made it perfectly clear that this is the type of place he likes to weekend at.
Tim’s last ride of the weekend was Midnight Galaxy (Herbie) who pulled out all the stops on the flat for a 28.5. A single error in the showjumping at fence 1 added 4 faults but he impressed Tim by getting through the ‘treble of doom’ clear! He was great cross country, it really looks like the penny is beginning to drop and he gave Tim a super feel.
Just George left in the 3S on Sunday and Tim actually gets a Sunday off!