To crown off one of the busiest weeks of the year Tim found himself with two horses at Hartpury for the CI4*S on Friday and Saturday. Hats off to Hartpury who had been very helpful in giving us Friday dressage as the crew were at Aston all day on Thursday but I am not sure Tim needed some 6 hours in between his two tests!
Bango ( Uno) and Ringwood Sky Boy ( Ozzie ) were here purely as a Burghley prep and Tim had no intention of aiming for a win so he kept the dressage prep as simple as possible. The added intervention of one of the worst summer storms on record just made it more interesting! With gale force winds and threatening skies not being the ideal conditions it was Uno who got a bit nervous as although he looks like a placid sort of guy he is, as we have mentioned before, a bit of an internal worrier and his score of 34 was not a reflection of his ability but more the product of a couple of mistakes!
There was a time when a gale and Ozzie really would not have been anything but a disaster but Tim reported that despite the manic flapping of the flags, the general stormy feel and the objects that came whizzing by Ozzie was the perfect gentleman and popped out a 26 test in a huge field to lie well within the top 10. Ozzie is simply so special to us all as he he never stops surprising us with his maturity these days!
Showjumping this morning ( Saturday) was moved indoors as the rain and the wind increased to biblical proportions! No one wants to jump indoors in August and it was interesting to see many of the older horse visibly struggling with suddenly being indoors again. Ozzie nudged his first two rails for a while to add 8 but Uno, who has had a chequered record with coloured poles and unusual circumstances popped out an assured and confident clear!
By the time the cross country started it was just gale force winds and a quick-time swapping of rain and sunshine as the weather shot past in a changeable mode for the whole day. Uno caused some consternation upon our bank of watchers as we immediately identified Tim as the rider but not the big fluffy noseband on Uno! As he galloped up the hill past us we decided it most definitely was Uno and sporting a new bit combination courtesy of Bill Levett which came with the matching shadow roll. It worked wonders, Uno was under control and jumped possibly one of the smoothest rounds at this level I have ever seen him do and it was quite a track to jump. Uno went fast at Camphire, playing his part in the Nations Cup to finish individual second and it was great to see that that hadn’t rattled his cage at all.
I had a chat with course designer Eric Winter in the morning and he said he had set out to build a truly challenging pre Burghley/ Blenheim course and it was just that with open corners, big ditches, gaping oxers and tough waters. It was refreshingly old fashioned in Eric’s way with some skinnies but no ridiculous lines that involved hauling horses around.
Uno was good but watching Tim and Ozzie was amazing. They gave a total masterclass of cross country… OK so Tim wasn’t pressing for time but what a ride… he and Ozzie cantered around like it was a lecture demo on how to ride each and every fence and all the tricky combinations were popped through like it was a schooling exercise.
We all know Ozzie is a Burghley winner and an all round good chap but today’s effort put him in that “we can just school around a tough 4*S track and be good for Burghley ” group. Its a very elite group and it is the coolest thing ever to see a top class horse and rider do exactly what a course designer predicted should happen over their track.
Congratulations to Hartpury for running… many events would have folded. The ground was amazing.. not just because of the torrential rain we saw in the last couple of days but because Jump 1 work tirelessly on it for weeks before hand.
And I think Jonelle has the weekend off! In August! Unheard of….