You can see why the Ministry of Defence uses Salisbury Plain as a training ground for the soldiers that it is preparing to deploy to places like the Arctic Circle. Barren, windswept and utterly impossible to keep warm at are the most salient points but you do have to add in that the team at Larkhill are one of the friendliest and most accommodating on the circuit. And there is never, ever, any mud at Larkhill which is always a bonus!
It is also one of those early spring events where the horses are particularly wild. It’s pretty open terrain and the view from the lorry park is a huge vista of the cross country course and the racetrack. Horses were pinging off the sides of their horseboxes with such regularity yesterday that it was rare to see the whole team tied up in its entirety any any one time. Pivotal to this was Faerie Magnifico ( George) who is exceptionally grumpy on the ground and picked mercilessly on whoever had the misfortune to be tied next to him. Happy Boy also has a range of facial expressions that vary from cross to absolutely livid which doesn’t endear him to his neighbors. Next door to the Price truck was Sir Mark Todd’s truck which was having similar problems!
Emotion ( Emma) kicked off Jonelle’s day in the novice and after a nice enough test she, alongside many others, found the open nature of the showjumping on the side of a hill quite testing! Emma has masses of jump, masses of power and just lacks a bit of confidence in her ability to be totally amazing. The 20 she picked up cross country was a technical due to a circle but she will undoubtedly be quite a star with some mileage.
Faerie Magnifico ( George) has no doubts about his confidence in himself and after his trip to Spain clearly feels he is quite the package. He posted a very smart 25 dressage before he went down to the showjumping where they were trialing Tim and Jonelle’s much publicised suggestion that the arena had up to three horses in at any one time… one jumping, one ready to start and one on standby with a separate exit lane to the entrance. This seriously speeds up the showjumping rounds and there were none of the queues at Larkhill like at Gatcombe! Most people were very sporting at giving it a go and George was one of the few objectors as he demonstrated his ability to wave to the gate crew as soon as he entered the arena. He is such a little snob that he clearly wrinkled his nose as he compared Larkhill with Vejer de la Frontera and found it lacking. He never the less jumped a super clear and then zipped around the cross country in time to pick up 2nd spot.
Curly Girl was impressive on the flat scoring a 29 before tipping an unlucky rail and having a fun time cross country for just 3 time. Its actually only the second time that Jonelle has evented Curly but their time in Spain together makes them look like a very established partnership.
Tim had a very lovely time on Spartaco who was running HC in the novice just to give him a start as he gave up his Belton spot to Falco. Jonelle pointed out that Spartaco was “pretty over qualified” to run around the novice but he thoroughly enjoyed his cruisey day and looked pure class as always.
Happy Boy was also having his first start of the season and he looks to have lost nothing of his “Figjam” attitude to life! He was quite lively up at the dressage which was perfectly understandable and then produced a very classy double clear for 5th in his section which is a nice way to start the season.
Gino Gingerino was in the same 100 section as Jonelle and George and that dressage judge had certainly read the memo regarding using the full range of marks as they scored from a 19 to a 51! Gino landed somewhere in the middle with a 34 and he then stepped up and went double clear for 8th spot behind George which would have given him some compensation for being picked on all day by his stablemate.
Lorenzo Monachesi also had a good day with both Fabienne ( Fabi) and Euphorie ( Penny) posting double clears. With 8 horses at Larkhill and another 8 going to Weston Park on Sunday its full on for the team whether they are at home or at the events and everyone is working their socks off… but it is fun when you have such a class team of young horses starting off 2019 so well.