It’s quite the hike down to the very South of France at the base of the Pyrenees for Pau and Kerryn and her crew left on the late Sunday night ferry out of Portsmouth to dock in Caen on Monday morning.
5 horses for Pau with 4 being 5 star debutantes. McClaren (Mac) is the old hand for Jonelle with Hiarado (Jools) stepping up to the level, Tim has first timers in Happy Boy and Viscount Viktor and Cosby Green has Copper Beach (Sean) for their first crack at the top.
The timetable at Pau is governed by the Driving which runs at the same time and the jog was at 10 am today followed by the first half of dressage at 2pm. The 10 NZ horses jogged in absolutely torrential rain and when it rains in Pau, boy, does it rain! Jesse Campbell was the first out at 2pm when it was still tipping it down and although had eased slightly for Tim and Viktor by 2.30 it was till pretty relentless.
Viktor looked absolutely amazing and he rocked his first 5 star test at just 9 years old to take and hold the lead until the end of day 1. It’s a really classy field at Pau, it would be the hottest 5 star of the year in terms of quality of field and Tim and Viktor sit on 28 and pole. Piggy March is just 0.1 behind them but the point is, behind! It’s a remarkable debut at the level and Tim was delighted with his “baby 5 star horse”.
Jonelle went mid afternoon with the diminutive Mac who rocked out some of the best trot extensions we have seen to date from Mac with huge forearm lift and an established test with clean changes and plenty of uphill work. I don’t know why ( and neither does Jonelle!) but the judges just mark Mac mean and his 32 is not reflective of the level of quality of test that the puts in. It seems that the little fella is always fighting the tide on the dressage front and it cant just be that he has his ears back in concentration mode! Mac sits in 9th spot just 0.4 of a rail off the lead and when you are Mac being a rail off the lead is a very handy thing indeed. Pau is renowned for having the biggest toughest showjumping of all the 5 stars so don’t rule out Mac by any means at this stage!
Tomorrow afternoon sees Hiarado (Jools) and Happy Boy (Happy) centre stage and the weather is set fair for the rest of the week so fingers crossed the sun comes out.