It’s a big old drive from Chedington to Cheshire, some 5 hours in the trucks so the team left yesterday afternoon and headed due North.  Kelsall run a super event but they do have a pain in the butt stables etiquette where it is ‘bare to bare’ handover and having relieved Team Price of a £500 deposit as well as the £500 payment they then arrived at 7.30 pm on Friday evening to discover no bedding had been provided.  Apparently, had I read the “Terms and Conditions” when I booked it on Horse Monkey I would have known this but they then took another £250 for bedding which the team than had to mostly throw into the skip this afternoon in order for the next competitor in the door have a bare stable.  Not sure that is  either economically or environmentally viable!

All horses and riders and grooms then had an early start with both Tim and Jonelle being allocated 8am dressage times.  Tim was delighted with his crew, Vitali on perfect pre Badminton form with a 24.1 which led equal with Jonelle’s Hiarado (Jools). Happy Boy was on a 26.4, Jarillo on a 29.6, Viscount Viktor on a 30.7 and Chio 20 on a 32.1

Jonelle was obviously delighted with Jools as she was pretty hot in the warm up but settled in the arena to do a good test and stay with her which she didn’t do last season.  Chilli’s Midnight Star (Ollie) dod a super test for 25.9 and Full Monty de Lacense (FM) made one error in his intermediate for a 33.  Grappa Nera (Grape) was simply wild in the warm up and certainly wasn’t going to copy Jools and knuckle down for the test.  Jonelle actually apologised to the judge before she went in which probably went some way to helping the eventual score of 40.9 as Jonelle thought a 50 probably would have been fairer!   Grape never has been and probably never will be a one day horse…she has far bigger sights in her eyes than a 20 x 40m on grass and she isn’t the first mare to think like that!

Tim’s crew all show jumped beautifully clear with the exception of Viktor who was so delighted to finally start his season he was fresh and strong to his fences.  As Tim says, he has been ready to come out for a long time, he didn’t get to go on the Tour and he has been the one that has been hit hardest by the cancellations this spring.  He pulled Tim into the double and into the oxer six strides after for 2 rails  but Tim was quick to point out he is just keen to get on with his job and you cant beat that at the start of the season.

Jonelle’s four all had a clean sheet over the coloured poles and they both ran their horses  quietly cross country with the ground still being quite tacky and deep on the border with North Wales.  Happy and Milo are Saumur bound on Monday night so Tim was delighted with his final run although Eventing Scores had him on 113 time at one point with Milo which was a bit of a mystery until we realised he had been held and his time not adjusted!  Viktor got his cross country fix and felt fabulous for his first run since Pau 5 star, Chio didn’t consider anything cheeky at all and Vitali purred around for his last start before Badminton.

Jonelle also had four great rides with FM feeling more grown up, Grape ticking her Badminton box and Jools and Ollie finishing 2nd and 3rd in their sections despite Jonelle adding 11.2 and 9 time.  They were beaten by fellow Kiwi Dan Jocelyn on Blackthorn Cruise who sped around with just 6.8 time for the win.

They pulled out of the venue in the late afternoon for the trek back to Chedington with a great day behind them.  Despite the challenging last couple of months with endless rain they have 5 horses prepped and ready for Saumur next week , Badminton in the second week of May followed by Wiesbaden.  Several one days in between and the sun is finally coming out and this weekend we have our first high pressure system in the UK since December!

And as a side note, 5 star winner Faerie Dianimo (Maggie May) has her own playmate now with the birth of daughter Maizey on Thursday. Those who know Maggie May also know that she was known as Princess as well, due to her love of events like Aachen and Luhmuhlen, and distain for the one day dressage.  We always knew she was too posh to push and having had a difficult birthing process refused to have anything to do with her filly  and had to be sedated and hobbled to allow her to feed!  Happily she is now fully on board and very protective of her.

Maggie May and Maizey