The cross country didn’t start until 12 noon local time but Jonelle was one of the early starters out of the gate at no. 8 so she didn’t have a whole heap of information to go on.
One thing is always clear at Pau, you have to gallop from the go to get anywhere near the time as the combinations are always slowing you down. Jonelle and Grappa Nera (Grape) set out meaning business and Grape was quick to step up to the mark and answer all of Jonelle’s requests.
Going fast us one of Grape’s favourite things but to go fast around a 5 star means you need to think really fast too. And as Jonelle says, she’s such a game little mare like that, she isn’t over exuberant or overly careful but you can trust her to make good decisions at speed and that’s the mark of a really good horse.
When Jonelle bandies words and phrases around like “she made light work of it” and “athletic”, “nimble” and “its great to have her back” then you know that finally the cloudy October has turned into a sunny autumn! They only had a single ‘moment’ when at the last combination Jonelle went for a half halt and Grape thought about dropping back to trot which gave Jonelle a ‘gulp’ moment but Grape was quick to put the gas back on and it turned into a zero jumping penalties round.
Just 1.2 time saw them in the lead all day, right until the last rider of the day, David Doel, was one of just four riders to make time and he slipped ahead of her finishing on 30.6. Jonelle and Grape are on 31.3 and there isn’t a rail between the top 5.
Meanwhile footage has emerged of Tim driving a horse and buggy in the main arena. Pau is a very odd event at times and the Driving is without doubt their main love and runs at the same time as the event. It’s quite the surprise the first time you take a horse hand grazing at Pau and all of a sudden a horse and buggy come flying around the corner leaving you in a cloud of dust with a massive rope burn and the view of the rear end of your horse disappearing at speed. They seem to have come up with a new concept where they invite celebrities to have a go and its pretty safe to say that I don’t think Tim will be swopping disciplines any time soon. Or, for that matter, whether Boyd Excell needs to worry about his World No. 1 status being challenged in the next decade. It seemed like there was bit of a language barrier as well as the person also on the buggy looked bored rigid and didn’t seem very forthcoming with any actual directions which meant that the exciting dash around the cones and solid obstacles was more like an amble around the arena. The real star of the show was the pony who was not only adorable but also frankly immune to Tim’s occasional “Yah! Yah!” with the sort of snooty disdain only the truly French born can possess.