Jonelle described today as “the most successful unsuccessful day I have ever had on cross country!”. No one deals with the bad days as well as Jonelle, she is honest, quick to take the blame and totally with the rap that “you just have to take the bad days on the chin and move on”.

In the second rotation of team riders on Senor Crocodillo (Diego) Jonelle was ticking all of the boxes. Diego was bang on target, answering every question, reading the tricky first water under the trees, using fancy footwork at the second water to navigate his way though and generally looking like they were a proper partnership heading for Boekelo glory and 5 star beyond. A few from home the usual Boekelo question of a brush on top of a mound followed by a steep descent and a left handed shoulder brush hidden on the flat at the bottom of the slope and Diego never locked on and they pick up a 20.

Jonelle was quick to say that she totally blamed herself, that she rode it badly and was never on the right line. To be fair to Diego, he didn’t drop his shoulder, he simply didn’t see the question. He popped it straight away and cruised home and but the damage was done. On the minus side he dropped from 8th to 63rd. He would, if he had made time, been in 3rd. That sums up the difference in XC penalties in a massive field!

On the plus side Jonelle is delighted with him and rates him as one of her high hopes for the next few years. And its just a 20 and still a team counting score.

James Avery and the very inexperienced Dallas 13 simply bounced around the track for 6 time and a clear to keep the Nations Cup team alive. They rose from 71st to 36th so no bad effort!

Tim and Jarillo ( Milo) yet again went out as No.4 (although in reality no.3!) with all the team hopes left on their shoulders. This time last year Milo was on holiday having just completed his season with the 3L at Lignieres which is hard to imagine now! For such a youngster he carries the wisdom of one much older on his shoulders…or perhaps thats just because he has such a great brain and he is happy to let Tim direct him left, right, speed, duration….whatever is required. He doesn’t fight, doesn’t argue, get strong, get cocky, any of the above he simply gallops and uses his immense scope to deal with whatever is in front of him. He belies his 9 years when you watch him, he looks so much more experienced and it’s a joy to see such youth and trust in his rider. Tim set out in education mode and as Milo got better and better he put his foot down to come home with just 2 time and eventual 9th spot. That’s quite something on your Boekelo debut. He might be massively horse shy in the warm up but having space all to himself is an incredible attribute for an event horse and Milo is headed for the big time for sure. He sits just 5.6 off the lead. Tim simply said “I’m Sooooooo pleased with him!” which is really all that needs to be said.

Jonelle and Clever Louis headed out later in the afternoon after there had been (way too many) horses punished for a bold jump into the second water followed by a fall on landing. Years ago Tim and Wesko (Dash) were a victim of that water and it inexplicably catches out so many which is not a positive in the Boekelo vibe. If you landed the first drop then the next question was not to stumble through the second entry into water down a slope with no fence…several went down, a few more ducked their entire heads underwater but managed to stay upright.

Louis is not a horse that does things by halves. He set out on “full on” mode cross country and Jonelle was delighted to find she had the tools to let him gallop and come back when she asked. They had triggered a MIM clip at the first of the double corners but Louis was being his bold athletic amazingly cat like cross country self and Jonelle said she was just stating to think ” how unbelievably achieving riding him might actually be!” when they headed down to the second water. They jumped in fine, landed, jumped the skinny, went down the slope into the second pond and wham, down stumbled Louis. Rarely have I seen a horse turn a full somersault on a stumble but poor Louis went hook line and sinker, down into the water and then turned right over. Jonelle was mercifully thrown mostly clear and as she staggered up Louis emerged upright and stood, bewildered and stunned at what had happened. In a touching tribute to Jonelle’s horsemanship you could see her reach out to him, sooth his nerves with a pat on his face, “You’re ok mate” and lead him out of the water. It’s actually heartbreaking to watch as Louis is so confused and so utterly submerged through a simple stumble.

The good news though is that Louis will be fine, physically anyway. It will take some time and some puddle jumping to get his confidence back but he is a hell of a performer and there is no doubt he will get through it. He is sound and happy tonight and he will be back next season!

Unbelievably the Nations Cup team is in 5th, not a million miles off the podium as it was such a day of chance that nearly every team carries a xc 20. And that on a day of sunshine and great weather which is rarely the case in Boekelo. The crowds were massive, some 60,000 reportedly and the atmosphere certainly built through the day to a buzzing finale.

Congratulations to Milo’s owners, James and Rachel Good, Lucy Allison and Francis Stead and I am sure they will be raising a glass tonight! Joe and Alex Giannamore know they have a star in Diego and for Chedington Estate…well, watch this space with Louis as next year will be a brand new start with a whole new partnership back on track.