Saturday was as hot, probably hotter than it had been all week and there was a request from team Chef’s to swop the 2Long and 4Short times around so that the advanced horses started at 8.30 am but that was a no go. So our start time was around 1pm and from then til 6pm it was full on.
Team horses ran first before individuals as in the dressage so it was not long before Jonelle and McClaren (Mac) headed out of the start box and flew up the hill for the first loop. Jonelle was on a mission and Mac was up for it and they scorched back down the hill and into the first water. Mac was simply superb and he and Jonelle crossed the line as one of the very few to make time.
Tim and Falco set out a little bit later and they too left the start box along the lines of the proverbial scalded cat. Falco didn’t jump any less spectacularly but he galloped like a trouper and answered every single question perfectly and they too crossed the line under the optimum.
Individual rides next and Tim and Coup de Coeur (Joker) looked pure class as they utilised his huge stride to full advantage. It might have been only Joker’s 2nd 4Long and third run at the level but he looked like he had been doing it all his life as he sped up and down the hills and again came in under time.
Grappa Nera (Grape) was born to run and gallop and she and Jonelle had the best time zipping up and down the hills and flying every fence in a fabulous rhythm. They are on the same page from the get go…Grape is never going to run out of energy or her simple desire to run and jump. A great ride from Jonelle saw them cross the line under time and whilst the Price horses were making it look easy the rest of the field found it not so easy to make the time.
Happy Boy had a long wait until his turn just before 6pm and I have never seen Tim let him gallop out of the start box as fast. He bowled up the first hill looking like a superstar and did nothing on the way around to change that. He has little mileage at this level but he looked the complete classy package and by the end of his ride Tim had piloted all three of his charges to clear under time. That’s pretty consistent again!
With 4 team clears in the bag as both Ginny Thomson (Rocky) and Jesse Campbell (Diachello) went clear with some time New Zealand lay in bronze overnight and the Horse Health team were hard at work in the stables until late making sure that all the horses were comfortable. It wasn’t an easy day for the support crew with both limited water and ice and they found it pretty disappointing that so little had been done to prepare the ‘cool down’ for hot horses finishing an international in hot weather.
Sunday morning was another very early one but instead of blue skies they were cloudy and it was considerably cooler than the preceding week with a few drops of rain thrown in. Thanks to sterling work from the horse health team plus as always from Kerryn and Jeanne and the welcome return for a week of Jess Wilson (who doesn’t have favourites apart from Mac!) they all flew through the trot up and we had our last gaze at the backdrop of a Manatou and a dust heap before returning to the stables.
Jumping started at 11.30 and it was in reverse order. Jonelle and Mac had an unusual rail for 4 faults but it was the time that was the killer being exceptionally tight and they made that look easy. Falco and Tim used more pace to make the time and that just made the jump even more spectacular! A stunning clear inside the time left them in 8th spot and one would assume a definite spot at the World Champs.
Coup de Coeur Dudevin (Joker) made the time with yet another polished ride from Tim but just tipped a rail for 12th and Happy Boy lived up to his reputation as the Champ and gave a beautiful display in his usual inimitable style for a clear in time to finish the best of the Price team in 6th. We have been training hard recently in making time and it certainly seems to be paying off.
Grappa Nera and Jonelle didn’t have the easiest time although unsurprisingly time wasn’t an issue! Three rails was not really the result Jonelle wanted but Grape is on the comeback trail and for her first foray back into international competition she is doing fine.
Meanwhile, in the 3 star class Hiarado (Jools) had jumped a lovely clear round showjumping on Saturday morning and gave Jonelle a great run around the 3 long track on Sunday to add 7 time to her score and pick up her first MER with Jonelle. They looked great and both had fun around the track.
Team NZ slipped to 4th in the Nations Cup which was frustrating but yet again it was Tim who led the attack and both he and Jonelle were the best two scores. We bade farewell to Le Pin and hope fervently that their building programme is complete before we return next year!