A chilly start but then a beautiful day at Dauntsey with the ground as good as it has ever been for this popular autumn event. Beanie Sturgess runs it in the old fashioned way with as little a nod to Health and Saftey as she can get away with so its fun to be able to park cars in the lorry park, not have to deal with a rope shutting the showjumping arena entrance off and other annoying factors that spoil the day!
Beanie is also legendary for building a cross country course that is not for the faint hearted. This years intermediate track had a coffin followed swiftly with a super skinny brush that had nothing to hold you in and no alternative! Tim and Happy Boy did a nice test for a 33 and a really cool clear in the showjumping over a track which caused plenty of problems throughout the day. Happy looked tremendous and caught several eyes and Tim set off cross country feeling very positive. Happy is only 6 and found himself on a very grown up track for his first intermediate run. He dealt manfully with all the questions up until the coffin where, just as he was about to jump the ditch, he spotted the skinny brush a few strides away and ground to a very surprised halt. This also took Tim by surprise too and since he now had no distance to ride positively to the skinny he had no option but to represent to the ditch. Happy did have his eyes out on stalks at this stage but he was genuine enough to trust Tim and stay straight to the arrowhead. I think he was possibly the only horse all day to pick up a 20 at the ditch in that combination and not the skinny!
Also making their debut intermediate at just 6 years old was Lorenzo Monachesi and his own Euphorie ( Penny). Penny is a beautiful big bay mare and at over 17 hands is already looking impressive on the flat. Lorenzo works hard at Mere Farm and he has produced Penny himself and Tim was on hand to help him with his showjumping at Dauntsey. I am not sure whether Tim’s yelled instructions from the sidelines were a help or a hindrance but we decided to attribute the three poles as a 50/50 fault divide between Tim and Lorenzo! Lorenzo was then justifiably proud of his and Penny’s cross country clear round as he should be.
Jonelle meanwhile was feeling pretty proud of her breakthrough on the flat with Grappa Nera ( Grape). To say that they have not seen eye to eye on the dressage front this season would be an understatement and they have regularly posted 40 plus tests as they publicly aired their differences. Thursday had seen Jonelle’s best ever day at home with Grape and she was delighted to post a 28.9 which is by far and away her best mark to date. Grape then jumped a solid double clear and it looks as though she may well be the dark horse for Lignieres next week if she carries on like this.
Hester is much more reliable and she also posted a 28.9 as although she does get a bit tense she does try and manage her nerves as best as she can! Her double clear was as good as ever and she now heads to Le Lion D’Angers for the World Young Horse 7 year old Championship.
Making another debut was Faerie Magnifico ( George) who stepped up to his first novice at just 5 years old. He may come from an illustrious line but he still has to go out and prove himself and he was a plucky little character yesterday for sure. He had to contest a rein back as well as a far more complicated test than he is used to in the novice and came away with a very respectable 70 %. Jonelle had to sit down and ride the forward distances in the showjumping but he listened and responded and just tipped one rail in the combination in the shadows under the trees. He then had an agonisingly long wait at the cross country start while some unfortunate horse was extricated from the ditch at fence 4 which didn’t bother George much.. he has quite the attitude and is pretty disdainful of lesser creatures that make mistakes like that.. but it did, as Jonelle said, test her patience!
He then dealt with the tough old track with maturity beyond his years. His only error was at the same combination as Happy’s intermediate where he over jumped on he way in and had a drive by at the house out but he popped it neatly at the second attempt and came home with an unusual look for him… almost shocked into silence! He has a few more lined up before his season ends but he is turning into a super little horse. More Dauntsey young horses tomorrow…