Friday dressage for Jonelle with her 2 Intermediate Championship rides, Fernhill Kankan and Chilli’s Midnight Star (Ollie). The timings seemed to assume that Jonelle was still a local with a not long after 8am dressage with Kankan who obliged with a very competitive 28.9. Ollie was not far behind with 30 and it was no surprise that Ollie Townend held the top 3 spots as he has long made this class something of his own.

Drifting off the script however on Saturday morning when Storm Antoni blew in off the Atlantic and yet another low pressure system destroyed the summer weekend. It’s all very well to note the climate that keeps England so green but this is our 5th week in a row of wind and rain and the grass is more luminescent than Kermit now. After another punishingly early start Jonelle found herself happy to be one of the first few into the showjumping arena on Kankan as it was clear that the ground wasn’t going to hold up for long. Kankan jumped a beautiful round in her first start in the unique main arena and Jonelle swapped onto Ollie.

Ollie was still relatively early in the class but the ground had already started to show the effects of yet more rain on top of the wettest July in years. Ollie very nearly went down landing off fence three and did a good job to stay upright and with a double of verticals looming up quickly somewhat inevitably had the first down before smartly exiting leaving the second in place. He did well to retain his confidence for the rest of the round although, as Jonelle said, they had quite sensibly not built it bang up to height.

It wasn’t long after that the announcement came that all National classes were to be abandoned so Kilbunny Andy and Full Monty de Lacense (FM) had a road trip for no other reason than to stare out of the lorry windows. Given the conditions I’m sure they were very happy as their view consisted of either spray on the roads or scurrying figures heads bent against the rain or horses going sideways in order to avoid heading straight into it.

Tim still had a dressage test to do in the British Open and as reigning champion it was bit surprising that he also was on relatively early. Gatcombe’s complicated timetable makes it tricky for multiple riders but as Tim only had Vitali I guess it just must have worked. Again it would seem an advantage as the dressage arenas are the first to get ploughed up and Vitali, being no stranger to the great outdoors like all the Team Price horses, made the best of it with a very smart 27.2 to lead the class at lunchtime.

Still plenty of horses to go in that section as I write and all the Championship cross country has been moved to Sunday so Jonelle will have to come back yet again to complete her weekend. It’s pretty impressive of Gatcombe to keep going as, although I don’t have the personal experience, it must be pretty gutting to watch your Park being turned into a giant mud bath without even the advantage of having watched Dave Grohl take to the stage. The forecast is much better for tomorrow but the damage has been done to the ground and it’s going to be a stamina test tomorrow for those who take the prizes.