The livestream for the CCIO 4* XC took a bit of tracking down but when we finally accessed it it looked a bit misty and murky in France. The sun soon came out though and whilst the footage was erratic ( to say the least!) it certainly gave us the gist of it and if you stopped getting giddy at the spinning circles and the close up grass shots you then had some enterprising drone shots to keep you entertained.
Grovine de Reve ( Rev) was the first out for Team Price for the day and he was truly awesome. He and Jonelle looked so up for the track and Rev really revelled in the challenge which was tricky enough with faults at fence 4AB, the water at 9ABC and the corner combination at 15ABC being the most common. They were as straight as a dye everywhere and came home with just 4.4 time.
Grappa Nera ( Grape) was out next and as Jonelle said, she benefitted from her pathfinder round with Rev and she simply scooted around the track for just 1.2 time. That was really quick as only a few made time all day and elevated Grape into 11th which is dead impressive. Grape is looking more and more like a possible candidate for Tokyo as her jumping ability and her incredible scope and gallop shine through and the extra year is only working towards her favour.
Last out for Jonelle and indeed last horse in the class was McClaren and they set out looking like the business. They freewheeled all the way to the water at 9ABC where they were one of a fair few to have a drive by at the skinny arrowhead set up on the rising ground at C. Jonelle is quick to blame herself as she says that she underestimated his length of stride at speed and she got there on three and a half strides which wasn’t ideal. It’s also fair to say that it was brush and Mac, had he had more experience and not had 2 years off may have been able to jump it. But as Jonelle says, the reason she wanted a decent international run before a 4L in Strzegom is to get some practise in and they learnt so much about each other today that the lesson was invaluable. She stressed that the original problem came from her thinking of Mac as a bit of a pony still and that he really is a small horse not a big pony at speed! So Mac simply popped it at the second time of asking and they finished a happy duo and ready for the next challenge.
Tim was in happy hacking mode and he and Wesko ( Dash) schooled around the course for 14.4 time which put Dash into “easy mode”. He also picked up the exact same amount of time on Spartaco which put him into “sport mode” as he doesn’t have Dash’s experience but he really did make it look so incredibly easy and straightforward it belied his years. Sparty is just such a dude, he even hangs out at the start box looking like he is about to go for a hack!
Hero of the day award went to Faerie Magnifico ( George) who jumped his socks off for a clear round in the CI3L to end in 4th spot. He and Jonelle added 1 second time to drop from 3rd to 4th but hey ho, the prize money is abysmal and we will take a clear all day! The Le Lion dream is alive again…
But SuperStar of the day award goes to Happy Boy. Having won Le Lion d’Angers 7 year old champs in October last year he had a sticky start to this season when BE lost an entry, then he picked up some faults at the coffin of doom at Cholmondeley which found him cross country schooling the next day at Robin Dumas Rosamund Farm which meant he had missed out on allot of sleep in 2 days. Tim fought his corner and said he was now fully prepped for Le Pin and you have to take your hat off to Tim.. he is the ultimate horseman and when he says we are good to go then you should never underestimate him. Happy won yet another CI3*L today and he really is quite the deal even if he comes with a “Rebel without a Cause” tag. What a dude. Back to back international wins. You just cant beat that winning feeling!
Oh…. and three years ago today Otis Price was born. Happy Birthday Otis!