The packed schedule in the Millstreet timetable meant that the straight CI4*S horses jumped last night and Tim was pretty happy with two super clear rounds for Xavier Faer ( Hugo) and unsurprisingly from Falco! They both jumped what Tim described as “smooth and careful” rounds and that did them no harm in the rankings with Falco moving into 7th and Hugo up into the top twenty.
This morning saw the ERM showjumping and the CI4*L cross country. Tim and Wesko ( Dash) jumped their usual flawless round and Dash looked as bright as a button and very happy to be back in the limelight. Jonelle went cross country in the 4*Long on Grappa Nera ( Grape) and the little black mare skipped over the top of the ground as we predicted and came home clear in time to move up to 9th spot from her previous 21st. She really is following in Faerie Dianimo’s footsteps and it’s so much fun to see the Grape Syndicate so involved in the journey and loving every minute of it! Jonelle mentioned that Tim had been her “spotter” out on course and had given her some useful information about how some of the combinations had been riding so she was ready to alter her projected stride patterns if necessary. That’s Team Price at full on strength!
By the time the ERM started out cross country it was clear that the rain was back and as we basked in 29-30 degrees here with cloudless skies it was so nice not to be in Ireland! Millstreet is a hilly and tough enough track and the Mike Etherington-Smith course asks horses to be focused and clever with their feet which is one of the requisites a true cross country top horse will possess. Jonelle was in the ERM commentary which was fun and she gave some clear and insightful comments on riders rounds and her sense of humour made her cool to listen to. The main bogey fence was a cleverly designed coffin with the B element ditch being one stride away from an angled “shoulder brush” for the C element. Horses jump open ditches in unpredictable ways and there were some truly genuine efforts and some naughty drive-bys. The footing was pretty tacky and holding and Tim made the wise decision to withdraw Dash as he is too precious these days to risk on not great footing and there are bigger prizes on the horizon. Interestingly enough Ollie Townend also withdrew his way-in-the lead Ballaghmor Class who is heading to Burghley as he also has his eyes on a 5 star prize.
This left the door wide open and it was simply brilliant to see our Lucy Jackson taking the title for Team NZ with Superstition ( Stinky). No one works harder or longer than Lucy and no one has a bigger smile and it’s a massive congratulations from Team Price to a fellow mate who has had a cracking year and heads to Blenheim on the form of her life with this horse.
The CI4*S class followed and Tim and Hugo had a perfect Burghley schooling round picking up some 13 time and jumping all the fences between the flags which moved him up into eventual 8th spot. Hugo loves the mud and his relentless stride could have made the time for sure but again, Tim has his eye on Burghley and this was all about prepping for that. Falco literally, as always, jumped his socks off and dealt with the going brilliantly but picked up a 20 at the influential C element of the coffin. Falco is tantalisingly close to a big one… fingers crossed he gets that chance at Blenheim.
Equistro have also come on board with ERM to offer a grooms prize which is voted for by watchers of ERM TV and not only includes products but a generous cash prize as well and it was awesome to see Hayley Oakley in the runner up spot for this and on the podium herself. The guys and girls behind the scenes work so hard and wet and muddy conditions just make it even tougher….it’s really fab to see these grooms being given centre stage themselves.
So a pretty good day all round an and excellent day for NZ. The weather still looks horrible but hey ho, its pretty amazing here in the UK!