Tim was flying solo on Sunday with just three rides. Kerryn drove the horses up from Dorset and it was an early start with Chio 20 in the open novice which kicked the day off. Chio hasn’t been out for a good while and he was pretty happy to be back on the truck! He scored a nice 28, just tapped out a rail and had a steady cross country run to get himself back into the swing of things. He was also more than happy to tuck into his hay net and have a snooze whilst his stablemates, Happy Boy and Viscount Viktor waited for the advanced to start.

No Sun on Sunday, just grey and overcast with some random drizzle at times. The truck park was holding up pretty well but the tacky going was not making the fairly technical showjumping an easy task and it was without doubt a day for the really good jumpers to come to the fore.

Happy scored a 30 on the flat whilst Viktor was a little further down the order in his section for a 36. He hasn’t done much at this level and it was also both Happy and Viktor’s second start of the year so the step up to advanced came pretty quickly!

Happy jumped his socks off for just 4 faults in the showjumping showing all his class and his confidence from his 4 weeks jumping in Spain in February. It always counts for something (and no one could have forecast the spring we have had) but this year it became invaluable as event after event cancelled. Viktor didn’t get the trip this year and his round was green enough to pick up 16 faults. To be fair to Viktor he certainly wasn’t alone as there were plenty of horses who found it all a bit tough but its always disappointing all the same!

The cross country was described by Tim as “plenty strong enough” with some tough skinnies and in particular a double of corners that required bold and accurate riding. Happy is an out and out athlete and he can pop in a short stride all day long but Tim wanted to keep moving in the going so he said he sent him forward on some relatively long distances for Happy and he was delighted that “he took them every time, never thought about shuffling one in and kept pulling out all of the stops the whole round”. Happy took this praise with his customary ears flicked back and allot of unnecessary kicking out whilst being washed down just to prove the diva in him is alive and well.

Big brave Viktor meanwhile had nearly had a meltdown at Happy’s disappearance cross country and had to relocate to the truck where Chio was happily still munching hay. Viktor managed to steal some hay, nearly break one of the brand new headboards and generally act like a 4 year old on his first outing. His brain switches from sweet to OHMYGOD in seconds and it takes a while for his body to catch up. He willingly left Happy though and trotted off with Tim to the warm up through the increasingly deserted truck park as we headed towards the end of the day.

First 9 fences went to plan and Tim said he saw a peach of a shot into the skinny at 10. It was actually harder to run out than to jump it but Viktor made a massive effort and dodged it. Tim somewhat resignedly took another shot thinking that this was now going to be the Skinny of Doom but Viktor popped in nicely. Odd, thought Tim, but hey ho, the double of corners are coming top and if he can’t deal with the skinny we have no hope at this question. But not a bother, Viktor jumped it like a champion and continued home clear all the way. Fair to say the day was a learning curve!

It was close to 7pm when Kerryn set off for home and we had all donned our winter coats again and abandoned the sunnies.

The truck rolled back into Cirencester Park bright and early on Monday morning with two intermediates for Jonelle and just Falco for Tim. Senor Crocodillo (Diego) and Hiarado (Jools) were both doing super tests and Jools scored a 26 whilst Diego suffered the indignity of having the bell rung on him in his. The judge told Jonelle she had missed the half pass from A and Jonelle replied that she had actually just done that movement before the walk pirouette she had just completed. It was a very smart one too. The judge told her to start the walk from the beginning again which was pretty weird and, with his unique sense of humour, Diego decided not to do another blinder of a pirouette but to have a crap instead which definitely ruined the rhythm. He ended up on a 30 and it’s still a mystery what he scored for the half pass the judge never saw!

Diego jumped a super round in the showjumping. The fences had been moved and the ground rolled and some new ground had been found by moving the string some 5 meters and it was definitely riding better that the last two days. It was still sticky but it was drying out and the Muskateer team had done everything possible to keep going.

Jools is a sassy mare and she gave a great demonstration of how to jump in the mud with an emphatic clear. They both had great spins cross country with Jools enjoying her first run of the year to finish in second place behind 2022 Badminton winner London 52 having added nothing to her dressage score and Diego third in his section with just 2 time to add.

Falco was dancing in the mud for the dressage and actually scored equal first with London 52 with a 24.3. He then jumped his magnificent usual showjumping round which was nice to put Kelsall to bed and then he too got his first run cross country since Prationi World Champs and he had an absolute ball. Tim left Laura Collett the win with some 19 time faults and said he feels Badminton ready after three days of Cirencester.

So thats it…it’s the big one next and what a pair of horses to be heading into it with! Vitali and Coup de Coeur Dudevin (Joker) make their debut trip into the Park on Wednesday with their PA’s Kerryn Edmans and Megan Hodder and lets just hope we can get the sunnies out again!