After the driest February in decades March came in with showers abundant and has totally derailed the start to the 2023 calendar. First Oasby was lost to the snow which refused to leave saturated ground and then Lincoln was run in bottomless conditions last weekend. Cirencester on Friday, with 10 horses entered from Chedington, saw all but 2 of them plaited up and ready to go before the decision was taken by the OC to cancel and hope for better conditions for Saturday which undoubtedly paid off for those on today.

Saturday dawned with sun and a seriously drying wind and it was a pleasant surprise to be driving into Cirencester Park and see an expanse of green grass in the lorry park and not a mock up of the Battle of the Somme. Tim had managed to get his two Badminton bound rides a run and both Vitali and Coup de Coeur Dudevin (Joker) looked a picture as they hacked over to the dressage to strut their stuff. The stint on the Sunshine Tour has brought them on and they both sport nearly full on summer coats and bestest buddies they certainly are.

Reminiscent of Wesko (Dash) and Ringwood Sky Boy (Ozzie) really! Vitali is a pretty confident outgoing individual who loves people and is getting better at not flattening them as and when suits him. Joker is that friend who we all love but is so ‘wanty needy’ sometimes we consider ditching them but Vitali appears to be pretty keen on being the Alpha Male and Joker quite happy to hang off his coat tails and send him into battle first. Wise man.

Vitali did indeed head out first and did a super test for 23.2 and what would have been 2nd place had he not been HC in an intermediate section. Tim posted on the NZ riders group, which was discussing ground conditions for tomorrow, that the going in his arena was perfect and Jonelle was quick to reply from home in Dorset “But you were first in!” which was both funny and accurate. Joker went some time later and his 29.3 was also a smart test.

The showjumping had held up remarkably well but was undeniably tacky ground and that was reflected in the single intermediate section that ran today with just 2 clear rounds. Mostly the horses had an early rail and reacted to that by jumping bigger out of the ground. Vitali had the first fence and then rallied for a super clear over the rest of the track, Joker had the in of the double for 4 faults but Tim blamed himself saying he had added on the turn. It was challenging but by all accounts it was a zillion times better than Lincoln last weekend!

Tim cruised cross country with 17 time faults on both horses for lovely easy clear rounds. These are two super 5 star horses with Thorseby looming next weekend as their first serious run of the year and they now have the cobwebs expertly blown away but the World No. 1 on cracking form.

For all the other 10 horses that didn’t get a run this weekend….we thank the owners of all of them for being so understanding and all the staff at Chedington for spending so much time prepping for a non event. It sure is a team effort and now that the Ides of March are well and truly behind us we can hope for better days ahead!