Peaceful Aila and Faerie Good Golly at Prestige Equestrian. Photo Credit Megan Hodder.
From the dizzy heights of 5 star Maryland with the glitzy arena, the adoring crowds, the international atmosphere and the, well, lets face it, glory of winning as well…. to the Clear Round and BS90cms at Prestige Equestrian with the hum of the M5 in the background and three 4 year olds freshly clipped and ready to test Tim’s baby horse skills.
Tim is a renowned ‘baby horse’ specialist but they don’t come without their unique challenges. Faerie Usain (Maude) is tall and gangly whilst Faerie Good Golly is small and sturdy. Peaceful Aila is Ginny Rusher’s homebred and she is also more petite than Tim would usually ride so not face planting was one of Tim’s main aims as he donned competition kit and rode into the ring on a misty autumn morning.
Maude was first up and she is probably the greenest of the trio as she hasn’t been out much but she did at least look like Tim wasn’t on his kids pony. Maude has had a fairly massive head for the last 3 years but now she has grown into it and is looking like the real deal…being a beautiful shade of grey definitely helps. The first couple of fences were undertaken in, if not style, then a certain degree of competence but fence 3 was a proper collision and having barged her way through that, thrown Tim back off her ears and ended up in walk, Fence 4 was looming up perilously quickly. They negotiated the rest of the track with the only inconvenience being having to navigate around the mess of poles that Maude had scattered across the arena on her way back past Fence 3 and Maude went to the truck to consider the baptism of fire she had just been through.
Next up was Aila and Tayla’s advice was for Tim to hike his stirrups up a bit so he didn’t take out the poles with his feet. Aila’s preferred method of jumping at the moment, having honed her skills at some Nexgen competitions in the summer with Tayla, is fast and furious. Aila likes to move at her fences and whilst luckily she does have a great technique when she gets there she isn’t actually experienced enough to always make the right decision! She zipped around with Tim and enjoyed herself immensely.
Golly probably got the best draw as she was last of Tim’s clear rounds and first of the 90cms. Golly’s natural way of going is uncannily like her mothers (Classic Moet) in that she also prefers the Formula 1 type of approach but she does have a better shape than her mother had in her younger days over a fence! Golly is quite confident and she bounced around the tracks in quick succession but she also is rather small for Tim so he was happy to have survived those rounds unscathed as well.
Back onto Aila and Tim’s 5th round of the day. No course changes between the Clear Round and the 90cms but whilst concentrating on curbing Aila’s tendency for World Hurdle speed and having some super jumps Tim rather inexplicably forgot the track and left out a section of the course. This was deemed highly amusing amongst some of his fellow riders who had by now turned up and got to see the current World No. 1 get lost on his 5th round over the same track. As Tim succinctly put it, definitely a different concentration level when there is not $100,000 at stake!
Back out on Maude for her 2nd round and it was clear she had spent her in-between time wisely considering her options. The crash at fence 3 in the first round had clearly wounded her pride and this time out she stopped gawping at the fences and decided to utilise the talent on hand and to give Tim some say in the affair. The improvement was really impressive and a great learning curve for Maude especially.
I don’t actually think any of Tim’s 6 rounds were clear but as he said, the main aim was not to fall off and to progress the 4 years olds education. Golly actually did qualify for the Nexgen Final which both staggered and impressed myself and Tayla Mason at one of the latter competitions in the summer but some investigation confirmed that it was by default as the 7 horses ahead of her that day had already qualified!
Jonelle and Grappa Nera (Grape) are enjoying the last of the summer sun down in Pau and have set up camp for the week. Dressage starts on Thursday afternoon after the usual early morning jog and Tim, Otis and Abel fly down on Thursday to support and make the most of half term.