Lead photo: Bango on his last trip to Kentucky.
Oasby is an event that Team Price usually only head to with Pau runners in October as its a good 3 hours plus in the car which makes it more of a 4 hour min trip in the horsebox. We had entered for Cirencester which is a mere hour up the road but all Cirencester horses were moved to Oasby by the powers that be as there were not enough entries to run both. Thats the problem with running events in a pandemic, when you take out all but the top it shows the sport is very slimmed down at the elite level!
Despite the fact that all the Spain horses missed the cut to be released from quarantine by 1 day so they all had to be withdrawn it was a classy group of 4 that left Mere Farm at 3.3o am. (Shout out to Jess Wilson for picking up that gig!). Jonelle just had Grappa Nera (Grape) whilst Tim had the Kentucky bound Bango (Uno) and Xavier Faer (Hugo) alongside Saumur bound Falco. Not having multiple riders also meant some strange times with Jonelle having some 5 hours between her dressage and her showjumping so Jonelle took out her i pad and tackled a stack of office work. Never one to waste any time!
Grape did what Jonelle described as “OK for her at this stage test” and was a marked improvement on last week at Aston. As she says, it’s all about getting a picture of how to keep improving the dressage mark with compromising Grape’s natural enthusiasm. She was still fresh enough though so Jonelle commented it was nice to get another run in with Kentucky looming on the horizon although she did qualify the statement with “Oasby is quite a long way to go with one horse!” which is a fair call!
The ground in the showjumping looked great but actually rode pretty holding whilst the XC track was on great ground and had even been aerated in places. Grape got a bit stuck in the going in the showjumping for a couple of rails but was her usual exceptional self cross country. Tim had the same feeling with Bango (Uno) who threw down the challenge with a very smart 23 dressage to be right up there in his section but then also got a bit stuck over the last couple of fences to pick up 8 faults. Uno then stormed around the cross country looking like the class horse he is and its so nice to see him back out again as he really did miss out on any decent runs last year.
Falco scored a 29 on the flat and used his uber special technique to navigate what must be something like his 395th clear round on the trot in the showjumping. He then zipped around the cross country for just 7 time which left him in 7th place in his star studded section. It goes without saying it was pretty infuriating that Horse and Country TV decided to take a ‘break’ just as Tim left the start box!
Gold star of the day ( Tim said so himself!) goes to Hugo who, at 15, has finally found a way to tackle his early season runs without his notorious spook! He scored a credible 26 on the flat before negotiating the showjumping in a very professional and grown up manner for a clear. He then set off cross country and despite his facial expression which resembled that of a 5 year old at his first start he effortlessly crossed the turf and picked off the fences with consummate ease in a lovely rhythm. 8 time left him in 5th spot and he looks to be ready to go to Kentucky primed and ready to do what he does best, which is gallop around a 5 star.
A long old day with 4 horses but a productive one. We are very grateful to Oasby for running with such small numbers and providing a great track for the horses to get back into the competition swing. As Tim says, it’s a pretty odd feeling with just professionals, no owners, no spectators, no trade stands and makes you realise how much events rely on all the characters across the board to make the days so special.