The team left at 10pm on Tues night and as they left the UK in the last of the heatwave and headed out for the ferry from Dover to Calais it seems remarkable that the last time they made that trip was back in February for the Sunshine Tour… when Abel was just a few weeks old and the world seemed just so normal.
Rock on to mid August and it is mandatory to have facemarks on at all times on site at Le Pin unless you are on a horse. Unthinkable back in February and really not much fun now! It is the weirdest thing to be writing about the first international when normally we would have had Badminton, Saumur, Tatts, Bramham, Aachen and Tokyo ( just to mention a few) under our belts and be heading for Burghley…
Anyway, as we all know times they are a’changing. It’s a big group of horses out in France and it will be a fairly busy few days and Jonelle had not allot of time to acclimatise to the French thunderstorms as she found her self smack in the middle of one on arena familiarisation on Wednesday night! The Nations Cup team that NZ have amassed is a small but tight group with Tim on Wesko ( Dash), Jonelle on Grovine de Reve ( Reve) and Bruce Haskell on Amiro Sky. The rules regarding the Nations Cup require that the team horse is ridden before any individual horses so Jonelle found herself pathfinder in spot no. 2 ( we had dropped spot no.1 as we only had 3 team members). This in fact made very little difference as most teams are 3 people teams!
Reve warmed up well and it’s fair to say that Jonelle and Reve are still finding their balance at the bigger comps as Covid has smashed the 2020 season out of all semblance. A great entry and then Reve decided to go West and cantered the entire way through the first shoulder in, using that old chestnut of ” it’s a similar aid, surely you want canter” which the smart horses sometimes employ in order to get out of work! After that he stopped playing the fool and did some super work to end up on a score of 32 which has left them somewhere within the top 20 or thereabouts.
Tim and Dash were in the “final 4” of the teams ( as befits their status as the professors with a 1, 2 3 at 5 stars under their belts) and after old adversary Michi Jung and Fischerrocana had led all day with a 26.6 they went in and smashed it for a 23.3 which is a PB at this level for Dash. Jonelle described it as “relaxed and powerful” which is the winning background of the best of tests and so hard to achieve…no one doubts the true partnership that Tim and Dash have. Like many of the greats Dash and Fischerrocana have spent most of their careers dueling for the dressage lead which is also interesting as neither of them are huge movers with big paces, they are just beautifully trained and ridden. Dash is 3 marks ahead today and although the scoring has changed the relativity hasn’t and at Luhmuhlen when Dash won, he scored a 43 whilst Fischerrocana scored a 41. In Kentucky when Fischerrocana won Dash had beaten her by 3 marks in the test. It would be nothing more than magical for these two to continue the duel in Tokyo next year as they have been such worthy adversaries.
So with Bruce Haskell’s score of 36 the Kiwis have ended up in 4th after dressage which is pretty cool. Jonelle also had to don top hat and tails with Curly Girl for the CI3*S and they did a great test for a 30 in a huge class that continues tomorrow and that was good enough for the top 10 at the end of today. Tomorrow sees Grappa Nera ( Grape) and McClaren ( Mac) for Jonelle in the 4*S and Spartaco for Tim. They also have tests to ride with Happy Boy (Happy) Faerie Magnifico ( George) and I am sure it’s good to be back on the road again at a proper three day.