All week we had been told that a spring storm was on its way and due to arrive to coincide with Tweseldown’s first International fixture which hardly seemed fair when Rachel and her team had worked so hard to prep for 4 days of competition with a 2*S and 3*S being the icing on the cake.
For once the weather peeps had got it spot on and it was Spartaco (Sparty) and Tim who rode into the showjumping as Bill Levett was halfway through his round when first the double then a couple of oxers flat packed themselves to the ground. Super surfer dude Sparty hacked back out again and waited whilst some sandbags were found as he is pretty good at chilling. He popped another warm up fence and then returned to jump a super smooth clear. Having done another great test for a 25 by the time he went cross country several hours later Tim stepped up the pace and it was when he turned up a bit too quick to the skinny that Sparty employed the “shark spotting” part of his brain and neatly sidestepped it as he had no intention of ploughing through it. Tim credited Sparty with making the right decision about a jockey error and then they popped it neatly on a second more safe approach and they carried on. Sparty is really becoming the real deal in all three phases.
Ringwood Sky Boy (Ozzie) purred through his test to also sit on a 25 and then gave us all, but mostly Tim, quite a moment in the warm up for the showjumping. Ozzie is a good and careful show jumper these days but they got a bit laissez-faire over a big oxer and Ozzie literally knelt on the back rail. They went from perfect to heart stopping and Ozzie looked like he was going to faceplant and as his front end disappeared Tim dropped the reins and threw his arms up to balance himself. Within a few seconds normal service was resumed but its funny to think that Tweseldown was the scene of one of Ozzie’s early ‘bolts’ in public and landing with Tim with his hands in the air after a fright would have resulted in a far different scenario back then. They went in and jumped a beautiful clear and Tim described his cross country round as “a delight”. He said they simply had a lovely time. How cool is that?
Happy Boy is pretty cocky at the best of times and fresh from his first double clear at advanced he thought the OI test a little plain for his talents coupled with the roaring wind, cool temperatures and on and off rain and a 32 was a reflection on that. A really polished double clear has set him up nicely for his first 4*S at Bicton in a couple of weeks and Tim was very pleased with him and he picked up some money for 6th spot.
Ascona M (Ava) had her own opinions about being asked to do dressage in a windswept venue with little shelter from the elements and a 32 reflected that rather than her talents in that phase which she is perfectly capable of leading. She then kept Tim on his toes in the showjumping warm up by alternating ridiculously over the top technique with some bold ‘let me go’ approaches to the fence. She actually jumped what for her was a relatively ‘normal’ round including jumping the first without pretending it was puissance class but it is still awesome to watch.
We often describe the 20m circle on the lunge on a hard surface during a vetting as the ‘circle of death’. If you see a 20 on Ava’s card on the cross country it is more usually known as ‘the circle of life’ as Tim is forced to circle in front of a fence in order to regain control. After a very lengthy wait down at the XC start where by now it was cold, raining hard and approaching the end of a very long day both Tim and Ava were getting bored and pretty over it. When they finally did start Ava jumped fence one and then started lengthening down to fence two gaining speed with every stride. Tim described it as simply “very dangerous” and said he wasn’t having a bar of it! A circle was made, the groundlines re established and they carried on without drama….until they got held. And it was quite the hold of around 45 minutes when they both got colder, wetter and on Ava’s part, crosser! When they finally did get going again Ava took a “while to settle” but they did eventually come home through the flags and a smart trot back to the truck to thaw out.
Meanwhile Jonelle had her own dramas with Diamonte (Monte) in the dressage warm up as Monte was not having anything to do with conventional dressage and turned herself into a Spanish Lippizaner with some spectacular moves. As Jonelle ( incorrectly as it turned out) tried to trot down the centre line the judges didn’t blow the horn and tell her she should be cantering ( as they did later with her second ride, McClaren) as Jonelle acknowledged they probably couldn’t tell if she was as Monte cracked off with a sort of ‘tranter’ with her head stuck up in the air. A 53 was close to a PB on the 3*S and Jonelle couldn’t decide whether the normally pliant Monte was not quite right or just feeling fit. A super clear round in the showjumping seemed to tip the balance into just being a brat but a total refusal to go anywhere near fence 2 on the cross country deemed something maybe amiss as she has a very good cross country record and has never jacked it like that. If only they could talk.
Faerie Magnifico (George) has been a bit of a brat for sure on the flat recently but he contained his worst movements to the lunge again today and scored a 30 which is no where near his best but is starting to get back on track. The showjumping was a good technical track in the main arena but with the going becoming a bit sticky required quite a bit of jumping. George jumped his socks off for one of his best rounds and even adding 13 time to his score cross country was good enough for 5th spot in a competitive OI section which saw him just beat Happy by a place.
Half sister Faerie Dianimo (Maggie May) never appreciates being asked to dance in a muddy field and a score of 33 was actually pretty good considering! The usual beautiful double clear followed and Maggie May was in her element at being allowed to go cross country twice in one week. Maggie and Ava go to Millstreet for the 4*S as a warm up before their head to head at Luhmuhlen 5*L which of course they have both won. Talk about the battle of the divas!
Curly Girl thought dressage a bit boring in the conditions but perked up considerably for the jumping phases and looked really solid for another double clear over grown up tracks, and her showjumping round was one of her smoothest to date. She is a tough cookie and relishes a challenge and Tweseldown certainly gave her that on Thursday.
McClaren had found himself in the 3*S by dint of the fact that Jonelle had run out of space with her OI’s. He scored a 32 on the flat with a course error and a couple of mistakes and then had a very very long wait for his jumping phases. By the time the 3*S show jumped it was becoming quite a battle with the elements and Mac relished it to jump a super clear. He then travelled well but under no pressure XC around for 14 time and 7th spot overall.
It was a long wet and cold day and Friday started off in exactly the same manner. This time they had 2 cars as Tim had an 8.30 dressage whilst Jonelle just had Tomochichi in Friday’s 3*S class. Tim’s day was scheduled to start off with three novices which could have been a very dramatic day but they are three lovely horses and they gave him a nice easy run. Nuances de Jarsay (Frenchie) was tackling just his second start at this level and Tweseldown is a good but at the more decent end of the scale novice and takes some jumping. Frenchie proved his worth with a 31, a rail and a brave and bold run cross country adding 14 time. Viscount Viktor is far more experienced and he showed that with a 24 and a double clear adding just 4 time for the runner up slot in his novice section. Jarillo (Milo) is also class and he added just 1.6 time to his dressage of 25.8 to also pick up 2nd place in his section and some more points to add to his tally.
Just Senza Fine left for Tim in the 3*S and that was pretty drawn out with a 3.30 dressage and the jumping phases starting at 6pm. A 28 dressage left them in touch and a pole added before a pretty speedy cross county for 6 time left them in 5th spot and a nice way to end another long day.
Jonelle had a long afternoon and Tomochichi (Chichi) wasn’t appreciating the conditions much. A 42 dressage was followed by a somewhat uninspiring showjumping round which included 3 rails and a stop. Chichi was excused running cross country and Jonelle headed out of the gate pronto.
Saturday at home and then back on Sunday for three first timers! They were not meant to start their careers at Tweseldown but Tenz, Cooley Seeing Magic ( Guthrie) and Fernhill Kankan are all going to have to give it their best shot and whatever happens, it will be an experience.