The road to Tokyo has literally begun with the horses departing late last night from PEQ (Pre Export Quarantine) which we have been so incredibly lucky to have held at Manton Grange with the most perfect set up imaginable. Our hosts, Emma and Fred Goltz, have been very generous and we have had super happy and relaxed horses in 11 stables in the bottom yard. Security has been strict with a perimeter fence around the ‘no go zone’ of the stables and cottage for anyone outside of the Tokyo bubble but the quiet arenas, lovely hacking and great turnout has meant that our crew have had a truly awesome week.
All the horses are fit and sound at the end a weeks dressage and jump training and Friday saw the main contenders gallop up at Manton on the Derby gallop that Tim and Jonelle rent. Reserves James Avery and Muzzy Pottinger have conducted them selves with dignity and real team spirit all week and it is a really hard position to be in and remain smiling! As Jonelle said, it is a situation she was in for Athens and Tim was in at Rio ( although he did get the last minute call up on arrival) and it is something that most top riders go through in the earlier stages of their career but it is always sad seeing them start packing to go home when everyone else is packing for Tokyo. Special thanks to Frankie Murrell (who works for James Avery) who threw herself into loading the horsebox with tonnes of heavy trunks, gear, feed and hay for a journey that she wasn’t going to be a part of. Thats what these elite grooms do, they are such massive team players.
So with the truck loaded finally at around 6pm and the temps soaring into the 30’s there was plenty of acclimatisation going on! The horses loaded at 9.45pm so it is Vitali and Grovine de Reve representing Mere Farm and Diachello (Danny) for team mate Jesse Campbell. Rev has been renamed ‘Frank the Tank’ as his manners on the ground are far from perfect and sometimes it hard to tell if Kerryn is leading him or vice versa. Xavier Faer (Hugo), Ringwood Sky Boy (Ozzie) and Falco head back to Mere Farm on Monday morning to begin their Autumn three day prep as do Grappa Nera (Grape), Classic Moet (Molly) and McClaren (Mac) for Jonelle. James and Mr Sneezy head back up to Yorkshire and Muzzy and Just Kidding (Ferg) back to Cirencester to their base with Ginny Thompson.
Christiana Over flies with the horses whilst Hannah McLean and Kerryn Edmans trek from Liege to Amsterdam to catch a commercial flight. Lucy Miles flies out today (Sunday) to meet them there and the riders leave early Tuesday morning.
Olympics here we come. Just a year late but its so good to finally get going!