Upton House Wednesday

Upton House Wednesday

Traditionally Upton House holds the ‘comeback’ title of the season as the Badminton and spring three day horses generally resurface here and so a mid week event is transformed into a mini ‘who will go to the world championships’ by dint of entries.  Couple that with an amazing July/end of June which has finally seen the sun come out, the temperatures rise and no rain for 6 weeks and you have an event with a problem: Ground.

Upton rose to the challenge admirably and they have aerated and watered endlessly.  They have had guys on tractors for 72 hours  non stop verti draining before they poured literally thousands of gallons of water on the track.  Upton estimated it cost them £175 an hour to water and asked for donations of £2 per rider to help cover that so, of course, Tim and Jonelle went above and beyond and chucked in £175 for their crew today. It’s so true that riders vote with their feet or their wallets and Tim was at pains to point out that for the older horses heading for Burghley and the Top Gun horses heading for the Worlds it is a small price to pay.

Falco had been subbed in for Gurtera Jimmy Clover (Jimmy was more than happy to give up his spot in the middle of a heatwave as the Irish don’t traditionally favour anything plus 21 degrees) to recover from his Aachen fright at being hung up on a fence.  To be fair to Falco it was more the embarrassment as he would undoubtedly have been ribbed all the way home and there was a mini owl hole there today which Tim said Falco jumped with the sort of ” hey, look at  me, owl holes are no problem” typical over- achiever which coupled with his 26 dressage and, of course, his clear showjumping puts him back on track for Pratoni del Vivaro. Tim also had his dear old friend Bango ( Uno) out for the first time in a year as he starts his Burghley campaign and Uno was hot off an appearance at squad training with Shane Breen at Hickstead on Monday.  Uno looks amazing, he is fit, well and has that experience which meant despite a year out he pulled off a 25 double clear and was beside him self to be back out competing with the big boys again.

Tim’s two young guns, Viscount Viktor and Jarillo ( Milo) were first time back since their 3L debut at Houghton. True to form these boys thought they were the bees knees and they had nailed this international thing and the one days were just for a laugh. Viktor was really fresh for the dressage but jumped a lovely clear in the showjumping and cruised around the cross country showing all of his class.  Milo was described by Tim as “being on another planet” for the dressage and I think it would be fair to say his score of 32 was on the generous side.  He is a superb jumper so a smart clear over the poles was not a surprise but his 20 cross country was! One of Milo’s quirks is that he is incredibly horse shy, which is fine and something that Wesko (Dash) schooled Tim in the art of dealing with but to the best of our knowledge Milo has 20/20 vision so when he gawped at a decorative caterpillar in the water and acted as though it was a horse and dug his heels in Tim decided he needed a reminder that it was time for the antics to be reined in. Milo got a smacked bottom and came home a much nicer horse than the cocky brat he set out as!  And unbeknown to Milo he did himself a favour as had he gained one more BE point today he would have become advanced and thus made himself ineligible for the Novice Championships at Gatcombe in a few weeks. Every cloud and all that!

Meanwhile Jonelle and Classic Moet (Molly) had scored a very smart 25 on the flat which Jonelle said was “very  justified” but perhaps was due to the fact that Molly was prevented from performing her test at warp speed by the fact that no one had remembered to put front stud holes in her shoes and whilst Molly may be a bit mad, she is far from stupid and had no intention of face planting on the short side of the arena.  She didn’t find skidding around the showjumping arena much fun and had a rail down but the footing on the cross country was much to her liking and she skipped around for 8 time faults and spent the rest of the day smirking with pleasure and flirting with the boys at the truck.  You would think at 19 she would think the 8 year olds were a bit above her pay grade now but not a bar of it!

McClaren had a really good break after his back to back Pau/Kentucky 5 stars and he has come back looking like a little bull!  He is on cracking form and did a lovely mistake free test and his score of 33 certainly didn’t reflect the work he did.  He jumped an assured double clear and even Molly, who is not a fan of short guys, gave him a cursory nod when he joined her for a haynet while they waited for Grappa Nera (Grape) to do her stuff.

Grape hasn’t been out for a year and it was potentially going to be a light the blue touch paper situation for the dressage but Jonelle said she smashed all expectations with a personal best at a one day with a really nice test. Slight disappointment then to see her score of 36 on the board which was neither deserved or warranted but Grape didn’t know!  She too busted out a double clear and enjoyed her return to the competition side of life.

It says much about Jonelle’s sense of rhythm that her three rides picked up 8.4, 8.4 and 8.8 time faults cross country. On three very different horses that is three very consistent rides!

Kerryn commented that the crew were a delight to deal with as they were all so happy to be back out after their various breaks from competing.  The sun is shining brightly and tomorrow the younger crew get to see Upton for the first time…hopefully of many.