Frickley Park.

Frickley Park.

A first foray up north to Frickley Park, born more out of necessity than curiosity as it was the only intermediate track running in the whole of the UK.  Yorkshire is a fair hike from Marlborough but in true Price fashion they put 10 horses on the trucks and looked forward to checking out a new venue.

Jonelle described her day as “not too bad” whereas Tim really did embrace the “it was an awful day” theme.

Jonelle started bright and early with 6 year old Cooley Seeing Magic (Guthrie) as her sole novice ride and a 26 dressage started the day nicely.  He jumped well in a tricky arena and just tipped the middle of the treble for 4 faults before cruising around the cross country and as Jonelle says, is becoming a “confident and professional novice event horse”.

Five rides in a day is the maximum you are allowed and times are tight for the dressage in particular.  With a slick team on the ground the jumping phases are not so bad as Tim and Jonelle can stack the horses at the side of the arena and today was definitely a ‘short of time’ dressage warm up day.  Jonelle had a very bright Faerie Magnifico (George) lunged whilst she went off to do another dressage test and George, feeling much better than he did at his last outing in Strzegom, was chucking some special moves and as it turned out his boots weren’t taken off when Jonelle hopped on so after a fairly ‘energetic’ test the judge eliminated them for said boots.  This information didn’t seem to make it through to the scorers however so Jonelle continued on with her day with a few looks over her shoulder and a feeling that someone official would pop up any moment.

Killbunny Andy had come off the truck with a scrape on his nose, literally just a graze but Jonelle left off his flash strap on the noseband as it would have gone right over the site and may have been a bit uncomfortable. She headed into the same arena the judge had just eliminated her from and part way through her test he rang his bell and eliminated her for the ‘blood rule’ as the graze had sprung a tiny leak.  So that was the end of Andy’s day and he retired to the truck to consider why on earth he had travelled half the length of the country  to do a quarter of a test.  Meanwhile Tim had two of his Burghley horses, Bango (Uno) and Polystar (Nero) who are 5 star fit and both took full advantage of the short warm up and an arena close to the cross country to lark about and score well above their average.  Tim didn’t mind, as he said, winning Frickley was never on their agenda and that was lucky as it turned out just completing Frickley was going to be more of a challenge!  Volani (Arnie) was running in Vitali’s place but that never got changed on the scoreboard and he did his first intermediate test with Tim with probably half the warm up he needed whilst Gurtera Jimmy Clover did a good job in his allocated 15 minutes.  Jonelle had two first timers as well, both Fernhill Kankan and Full Monty de Lacense (FM) stepping up to their first intermediate and scoring well in their sections.

I think ‘agricultural’ would be the best description of the showjumping track where the course builder had made the most of Yorkshire’s renowned rolling hills by building verticals down the slopes and some challenging turns to entertain the crowds.  He added in a really tight time to jazz things up a bit and while Jonelle didn’t do much to entertain the holiday crowds Tim definitely gave them their moneys worth.

George jumped a really good clear round but added three time which Jonelle said she knew she would be in line for as she added down the first couple of lines but felt the jump more important than time. Both Kankan and FM made a great fist of their first at the level with clears and then it was Tim’s turn to tackle the course.

Total Belief (April) seems to please the dressage judges and a 26 today confirmed that yet again.  April is a big girl and the showjumping track was never really going to suit her and they just couldn’t find a rhythm and she started to drop behind Tim’s leg.  When she cross cantered down to an oxer with not quite enough pace and not much response to the throttle it wasn’t looking good and then April chipped and Tim described his subsequent dismount as ” as a sort of gymnastic vertical flip which at some point looked full of poise and grace” but in fact meant that he went straight over her ears.  Tim has a unique ability (honed, as he says, by much match practice over the years) to make a fall quite a spectacularly prolonged time in the air and it was much appreciated by some bored children ringside.

Having hung onto April he got dragged around the ring a bit which further heightened the entertainment factor and having not completed the course he exited the arena on foot and hopped on Uno.  He and Uno are old friends and he jumped a super clear round which, as Tim cantered away from the treble, felt really good.  Ringside was silence, the commentator said nothing and Tim said he felt “a sort of emptiness, a feeling of a job not quite done” which was actually spot on as he noted when a girl waiting to start pointed rather condescendingly at what appeared to be an extra fence and what was, in reality, the last fence.  Tim gulped, picked up his reins, cantered a circle (thereby accruing another 4 faults) and popped the last nicely. He pointed out that he jumped that clear as well but with 4 jumping and 31 time faults added it was pretty academic.

The little crowd that had amassed to witness the world No. 2 on such bad form got bored and drifted away as Arnie, still being called Vitali and not Volani, just had a single pole, as did Jimmy and had gone completely when Polystar jumped his usual immaculate clear.

Jonelle was having fun cross country (which was pretty challenging) with George who gave her a super ride and felt back on flying form after his coughing his way around hot and dusty Strzegom 4 Long.  Next up was Kankan and it was a stiff enough test for a first timer but she too was flying until the water three from home.  To be fair, she did fly into it with a huge leap down over a big drop but she failed to land it and gave Jonelle a proper drowning in the grubby water.  Jonelle described herself as “underwater blowing bubbles” which the video confirms and she arose from the water with water draining from her clothes and, apparently, gravel down her bra. Kankan made a swift exit and the small crowd at the water were no doubt revelling in the visit to the event by Team Price and hoping it was going to be an annual fixture.

Jonelle squelched her way back to the truck for a full change of clothes and was happy to see Kankan was no worse for wear as she hopped on FM for his first crack at intermediate.  Tim watched her change as he identified the grass stains on his breeches in the mirror and nursed his sore foot which he had mentioned once or twice. FM was really awesome and answered every question and came home clear which was a nice end to the day for Jonelle and meant a long wait at the water for nothing for the locals.

Tim headed out on Jimmy who is very reliable and has hardly made a mistake since he trotted in the water at Burnham Market way back in April.  Tim learnt today that when Jimmy trots in water the same thing always happens, he kicks for a ‘pop’ over the fence in the water and Jimmy doesn’t pop, he stops. Much to the disappointment of the onlookers Tim barely moved in the saddle and he duly popped it out of canter and completed the rest of the course clear.

Tim decided that Arnie and the course were not really suited for his debut at the level, cited his sore foot and mentioned that he didnt have a “great feeling about the outcome if he had gone”.  All valid points and to be fair he was having a pretty awful day but Jonelle succinctly put it as “and then Tim chickened out” which is harsh!

Too firm for the Burghley double of Nero and Uno so they didn’t run either, not that the they really needed it anyway.  It was a long old journey home and not without an air of Pony Club camp as Jonelle had a stack of soaking wet clothes and Tim allot of grass stains on his breeches!