Dauntsey always seems to be the feast or famine event of the year, either held in scorching temperatures in the summer or wet and freezing in October.  This year saw yesterday’s first day abandoned due to what the BBC describe as “extreme weather conditions” and what those of us that love summer call “hot”.  There was much media coverage of a possible 40 + degrees being countrywide when in fact it was breached in one part of London amidst huge tower blocks, streets of concrete and the exhaust fumes of a zillion cars.  Organiser extraordinaire Beanie Sturgess moved heaven and earth to move Tuesdays entries to Thursday as she was inundated with messages claiming the fence judges “would simply keel over” which is in fact quite unlikely given that in many hot countries people seated under a shady umbrella in the middle of a green field don’t just drop dead on the spot but hey ho, we live in a very politically correct world now so these woke warnings must be listened to.

Anyway, it certainly wasn’t that hot at 5am this morning when Jonelle was starting her journey from Mere Farm and she had four early bird novice rides to fit in before her 100.  Jonelle mentioned that her novices are becoming much more consistent and reliable and they certainly proved it today with Cooley Seeing Magic (Guthrie) being the star of the show with a win in his section adding just 7 time to his smart dressage of 27.  Fernhill Kankan has some good form under her belt already but she backed this up again to day with a 24 dressage and just 4 time added cross country to finish runner up to one Andrew Nicholson who beat her by 0.2.  Always an honour!  Dromgurrihy Gold ( Dara) is a bit behind these three  (and a year younger than Kankan and  FM) but he scored a credible 33 on the flat ( he is a very big lad in a 20 by 40 arena) before being somewhat unfortunate in the showjumping when as entered the ring the (even more unfortunate) rider that was finishing fell off and broke her leg before she left the arena.  Some 20 mins later she was scraped up and in situ in the ambulance and Jonelle popped a couple of fences and went in but Dara was maybe a bit switched off to knock a couple of rails for 8 faults.  He was lovely cross country again and is beginning to really find his feet at novice level after just a couple of runs.

Full Monty de Lasence (FM) wasn’t much off the pace adding 7 time to his 29 dressage for 4th spot so it was a really great day for the 6 and 7 year olds.  Tim had their own Volani (Arnie) in the novice and he is also on a steadily improving curve and his 28 dressage and double clear with 5 time was good enough for another prize with the runner up slot.  You know Tim is riding off experience when the winner of that section was good mate Paul Tapner’s daughter, Maddie Tapner……when the children of your mates start to beat you its always harsh!

The 100 horses ran at the end of the day and as Tim commented, the novice track that Beanie had designed rode pretty well but the 100 was a proper challenge to the uninitiated!  As he put it, if you get one home then they have learnt absolutely heaps and thats the Dauntsey challenge.  His ride, The Highlander (Ivar) is a very green 5 year old and Jonelle’s ride, Faerie Deodoro (Milo Jnr) is a 6 year old with quite allot more experience but true to say that the eventing penny hasn’t entirely dropped yet.

Tim had managed to learn the wrong test for Ivar’s dressage ( which he did point out was pretty embarrassing for the current World No. 3) so when the judge beeped the horn and mentioned a serpentine Tim duly did the said serpentine, got to the end and then was like “what the hell comes next?”!  So he politely asked the judge if he could possibly run him through the test and then proceeded to do the right test but with 2 course errors on his score sheet the score of 35 was fairly hampered.  Fence 1 came up as a shock in the showjumping as Ivar gawped at it then stopped before jumping a neat clear round which was very brave!

The cross country warm up for the 100 sections was full of professionals who had all run novice horses at the crack of dawn and just wanted to get home so as 5th out Tim was preceded by some good mates.  For some reason Fence 1 was proving terrifying to the 100 horses and Tim watched as Andrew Nicholson bit dirt, second out Tom McEwen somehow wobbled over it clear and third out Jonelle on Milo Jnr stopped quite decisively at it.  He decided that it needed some respect, that he would get Ivar properly in front of his leg and leave the start box at a pace designed to make it easy for Ivar to jump bravely over it.  Turned out Ivar didn’t like it any more than the others so he too stopped at it so Tim gave him his first ever wallop and Ivar was so stunned by this sudden turn of events that at the second approach he bolted past it! Having picked up 60 jumping Ivar then proceeded to put his thinking cap on and he negotiated the rest of the track with a great attitude and came through the finish flags if not quite a man at least a teenager. Beanie throws everything at the babies…corners, ditches, spooky river crossings and as Tim says, if you come home you have done good!

Jonelle did a 34 test and took out a couple of rails in the tough enough showjumping before trying and  failing the challenge of Fence 1 on the cross country for a 20. Having made some progress in the last few runs Dauntsey has done nothing to add to Milo Jnr’s experience except to conclude that he isn’t finding this an easy learning curve!

But you know what…He is very pretty. Sometimes the beautiful people just don’

t have to try, they can get through life by dint of their beauty alone.  I mean look at Marliyn Monroe, it didn’t end well but she had a hell of a ride!