Main photo, credit Harriet Ashbridge. Otis is loving France!
No surprise in this year of endlessly switching plans that the Pau horses who travelled up to Little Downham got within 5 miles of the venue ( 3 and a half hours up north) in time for an 8am dressage when the event decided to cancel all the National classes. Tim and Jonelle were about 20 minutes away and they too returned home to continue packing for the next few weeks away in France and yet another plan to be re written.
The Long format horses had already left the night before and Kerryn had them all set up in the lovely permanent stables that Lignières boasts. Tim and Jonelle drove overnight and the entire party consisting of two horsesboxes, 6 horses, Scooby, Harriet, Otis, Abel, Kerryn, Kelsey and Megan are now complete. Add to that as well team vet Alice Croxford and Luis Alvarez Cevera is planning on flying up from his base in Spain on Saturday night.
The weather is pretty similar to here with sunshine and showers but they do have the luxury of a surface so at least the going will be good on the course. Jonelle is busy with four rides, Kilbunny Andy, Faerie Magnifico (George) and Curly Girl in the 3L and Diamante (Monte) in the 2S whilst Tim is delighted to have just two for this week, Spartaco and Falco in the 4L and he said it was good to be able to spend more time with them both.
George kicked off proceedings for the team with his test on Thursday morning and his brat behaviour at Cornbury was a thing of the past as he produced a really cracking test for a 7 year old. It seems hard to get the French judges excited though as the score of 29.8 hardly suggested such a good piece of work but to put that slightly in perspective he is currently lying 3rd, just a couple of points behind hugely experienced 5* campaigners Alex Bragg and Zagreeb.
Andy also pulled out all the stops for a super test but again 31 doesn’t really look like it! He and Jonelle have really established a partnership and he has improved massively on the flat since his arrival. Curly got to get up very early on Friday as the first combination into the arena and she sits just behind George in 4th on 29.9. Curly is also on the steadily improving curve and she has made big progress this summer as well.
Tim just had Sparty yesterday and he competed in a double bridle for the first time looking very grown up! Tim and Jonelle were both very impressed with him as the majority of the work was in another league to the tests he ha produced before but a late change and a missed step in a pirouette are expensive mistakes on a score board. He lay in 4th on 31.1 at the end of day one with another smart test under his belt. Tim and Sparty have unfinished business at Lignieres as last year they were in the lead after XC in the 3L before having to be pulled with a cut to his coronet band that was pretty sore for the 24 hours that mattered!
Falco and Tim were one of the Friday afternoon competitors and they put themselves into the top 10 with a 28.9 in 7th. The Kiwis are lying 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th with Sparty into 13th at the end of dressage. and plenty to play for on cross country day.