Well it was a day of two halves today as Tim headed down the road to Larkhill with some young horses and Jonelle headed up north with 2 of her 3 Kentucky horses. Jonelle had undoubtedly the earlier start but by default she also had the earlier finish as she had just the 2 horses as opposed to Tim’s 4. Weston Park has over the years been a notoriously tricky place to post a SJ clear at but after a ‘bright’ dressage warm up Grovine de Reve stayed with Jonelle in the arena to post a competitive score and leave a smile on Jonelle’s face. Reve then show jumped a super clear before heading out cross county with huge enthusiasm for the course.
The first water was what we call the Creek and the English call the Stream. Given that that waters usually resemble more of a lake.. or at least a pond…or at 100 level at least a swamp…anyway at Weston it is the old fashioned ‘creek’ that forms the first water. It us an unusual complex in that it involves an ‘in’ before an awkward jump over the ‘creek’ before a usually oddly positioned C. Jonelle describes it as her ‘Weston nemesis” as she has had numerous reactions over the years and I think even the great Mazetto ( Eric) may have had a moment back in the the day!
Reve started off well, approached said ‘creek’ and one stride away put in a cheeky spin to the right as he decided it was a trap not a fence. Jonelle was equally quick to pull left and say ‘ we are jumping this’ so they ended up at right angles to the fence, scrambled though then re grouped on the other bank. Reve then jumped the next two waters superbly so Jonelle put it down to a cheeky moment ( Reve is a proper cheeky brat!). He jumped serious waters at Pau 5 star in October and he is more than ready for another 5 star and it was a box well ticked today. The 20 penalties is a bit harsh but hey ho.
Weston were kind enough to swop around the times for Classic Moet ( Molly) and Reve so Molly then went to her dressage. Jonelle tactfully said ‘her neck was quite short as she was pretty keen to run’ and she did swap behind in a counter canter but it was a worthwhile exercise as she was much more on side than at Aston. Molly was never down to run SJ and XC so her next start will be much to her liking when she lands off another flight and realises she is at Kentucky 5 star!
We were lucky enough to have a day with Irish legend Shane Breen on Thursday and the Kentucky horses all got a spot with him. He is simply magic… a true horseman at the top of his game who keeps it so simple. His attention to detail is incredible.. he spots if a rider is more than 4″ off a straight line and his understanding of horse behaviour is amazing. He also has a very dry sense of humour and although we were not at Hickstead this time we were very grateful to Oakingham Stud who stepped up to accommodate us at late notice.
But none of Tim’s Larkhill rides qualified for that outing and he started his day with his and Jonelle’s Nuances de Jarsay ( Frenchie) who gelled on their second outing for a 29, a double clear and 5th spot. He then had Chevalian Torpedo ( Pistol Pete) who, as had been said before, is a bit of a ‘hold my beer and watch this’ type of horse which will explain his 8 + 12 in the showjumping ( seriously Pete, Tim really does know what he is doing!) but then redeemed himself with a clear cross country. Viscount Viktor is a lovely young horse who is getting the hang of his big body and long legs and after an exemplary dressage and lovely showjumping he headed out cross country full of the joys of spring. Evidently it was baltic at Larkhill and was sleeting snow and alternating with lashing rain. Tim had a similar experience at the sunk road to Jonelle… its a bit of a nemesis at Larkhill for Tim since he fell in love with a Spanish mare bred by Luis Alvarez Cevera that .. to cut a long story short… ended up as a good 1m 40 show jumper! She took exemption to the arrowhead out of the sunk road as did Viktor today. And as Tim says, its the type of fence where when if they say no once they also say no twice more. Izar LB back in the day had a similar problem… and she was a great jumper! There is a brush arrowhead in the cross country schooling valley at Mere so it will be a simple problem to solve. And so much easier to solve it a novice than 4 star as Wesko ( Dash) can testify! Although as Tim also mentioned.. an option would have been nice!
Chio 20 scored a 34 on the flat in a section where 31 lead so clearly his section judge was waiting for Valegro who never showed up. He was a bit unlucky to cop the last fence in the showjumping before a lovely clear cross country and now his connections are all super excited as they should be! Although since there was a birthday amongst the owners they were pretty happy anyway and I think they enjoyed some champagne in the maxi truck with the heating on whilst Tim battled the elements at Larkhill. There is a reason why the army train on Salisbury Plain for every type of warfare and I can confirm that Tim thought he was prepared for anything from Arctic warfare though to Polar expeditions and general hardship after his day today!
South of England beckons tomorrow foe the advanced horses. We are just dying for some warmer weather here!