And just like that it is Aachen time again and we are off to The Greatest Show on Earth with all things bling and two superstar horses with Falco and McClaren.

The girls (Kerryn and Megan) left Chedington with the Maxi and two good buddy horses with plenty of travelling space. They hooked up with Marcus and Fran in Clarke Johnstone’s truck and travelled in convoy with his and Sam Lissington’s horses (Menlo Park and Ricker Ridge Sooty GMZ) whilst Caroline Powell drove down from Newmarket in her two horse with Greenacres Special Cavalier.

They all arrived in Aachen in the mid afternoon while the riders and the rest of the team flew from Heathrow early that morning. Having cool, permanent stables on concrete in an indoor barn is just one of the luxuries of Aachen and the horses quickly settled down before going out to work on the big grass warm up alongside showjumping legends having a pre-collecting ring warm up.

Thursday was a bit overcast but we escaped all but a light shower and the jog in the stables was over very quickly and efficiently. Team photos by the water fountain were followed by a hang around until the arena familiarisation which was allocated to NZ at 7.45pm so it was pretty late finish for all.

Today saw an early start with Sam Lissington and Sooty running as an individual just before 9 am for 31. Caroline Powell was next up, first for the team on Cavvy and the mare did a good job of her first Aachen scoring 31.9. Jonelle and Mac warmed up beautifully and did a lovely test but the mark of 32.4 wasn’t really enough to bring a smile to Jonelle’s face! The SAP audience judging app head her much higher and the judge at E really liked Mac as well but C and H were not up for the big marks today.

Clarke and Menlo Park (Jacko) were green at the Worlds in Pratoni and much more established now but they also failed to impress the judges with a 33.1.

Tim and Falco were left to raise the hopes of the team and they certainly were the best placed on paper to do so. Falco was nervous here last year and today as Tim halted just as he was about to be in view of the judges you could see Falco take a glance around and a breath to steady himself. He is a championship horse who has slightly come in the back door as he never did the Le Lion d’Angers or the Boekelo route as a young horse as he was too busy picking up the odd cross country penalty here and therefore is a bit short on big atmosphere experience.

Tim and Falco danced their way into 4th spot behind the big guns of Yas Ingham on World Champion Banzai de Loire, Tom McEwen on current European Champion JL Dublin and Micky Jung on fishcerChipmunk who needs no introduction for a 26 flat. It was a great effort in the sunny stadium and one that both Tim and Falco have worked hard for. Falco showed his tension when the crowd clapped after his test as he reared and span in the arena and it showed just how hard he had worked to keep a lid on it in the test.

NZ sat in 4th spot behind GB, USA and Germany after dressage and with the Aachen showjumping always influential it was not until 5pm that the hallowed turf of the main arena could be trodden on by the eventers. Course was walked with Chris Burton, Jock Paget and Sam Griffiths and plans were made.

Jonelle and Mac jumped a super round, clear in time although Jonelle was under the impression she had added to fence 2 so she thought she needed to be up on the clock throughout her round which she actually didn’t need to. Caroline jumped clear, Clarke had just a rail and Tim and Falco were last to go and gave a spectacular display of jumping for a clear in time that was its usual breathtaking display of clean heels.

The combined performances elevated NZ into team Bronze after showjumping so it’s all to play for tomorrow and we are so happy to be back in Aachen. Happy days folks!