A busy morning for Jonelle and even busier for Tim in the depths of Ireland but one of the best days they have had in a while so all smiles tonight in the camp with the usual couple of surprises along the way.

The 3*L dressage yesterday saw Chio 20 pick up a 32.5 going early on in the class and Dromgurrihy Gold (Dara) pulling out all the stops and no doubt loving the space of a big arena with his long legs for a 30. Chio was out early in the cross country this morning and after a classy start came across fence 11 which was a carved squirrel with a big bushy tail which was the fence part. A bit of a ditch in front of a bullfinch was what Chio saw, as well as the giant squirrel and he decided a stride out that evasive action was the order of the day so grabbed the bit and dived off the track. It was a cheeky move for sure and not a total surprise for the original Jack the Lad to pull off but he has talent in spades and he regrouped and finished well with no other dramas. Dara must have known he was on home soil and grabbed his opportunity to shine, especially after Chio’s tales of giant scary squirrels out on the track and to his ultimate credit he put his trust in Tim to come home clear and under time to sit in 4th at the end of the day with fellow Kiwis Clarke Johnstone and Tayla Mason holding 1st and 2nd and Aussie Kevin McNab in 3rd. It’s impressive work from our favourite giraffe!

The 4*Long was always going to be competitive with Clarke Johnstone and Menlo Park (Jacko) holding 2nd after dressage and Jonelle said when she saw him jump fence 1 she knew he was on a mission! Sure enough Clarke pulled out a clear in time to take the the lead after dressage leader Sam Lissington picked up some 3 time to slip to second. Tim and Viscount Viktor really went for it to add just 2.8 time to climb to 4th place in their first 4*L together which is quite the achievement although Tim has always rated him as a first class cross country horse. It’s good to know that his trip up in the water at Aston 4*S hasn’t bothered him too much as he was bold and careful here around a decent track and Tim was delighted with him. Jonelle and Hiarado (Jools) were early out and although she is a quick mare Jonelle felt she was really chasing the clock on her to keep up to the minute markers and they came home just 1 second over time to pip Tim into 3rd spot. It turned out that the time actually was really hard to get with Clarke and Jacko being the only ones in the class to achieve it. Jools was her usual bold and brave self and Jonelle said she jumped “huge” into the waters in particular!

Meanwhile the 4*S was hotting up with Tim and Jarillo (Milo) showjumping clear to hold the lead and Jonelle and Senor Crocodillo (Diego) also jumping clear. Tim ran first on Milo and went beautifully to add just 1.2 time and he came back to the warm up to help Jonelle. Milo has stepped up to advanced this year like an absolute pro and looks classier by the week as he gains in confidence and experience. Jonelle had been aiming to go out and jump a good round on Diego, get between all the flags and go at a proper gallop but wasn’t overly bothered about making time. Tim, very generously it has to be said, pointed out that Jonelle could add 1 second over time and still take the win and Jonelle said “that just lit something really competitive inside!” so out she went and rode like the champion she is to absolutely nail it and take the win with Diego answering all the questions, coming home under time, and being such a different horse to the one that Jonelle took to Lignieres last Autumn. In fact it was only Jonelle and Kevin McNab that made the time in the whole class so speedy Jonelle for sure!

Jonelle also commented that perhaps the shock cross country result for Team NZ in Aachen may have, in a funny way, contributed to the current hungry and determined air in the Kiwi camp at Mallow. With Kiwis winning the 4*S and dominating the 4*L after cross country it’s a very positive outcome for a team that came home in the doldrums after a bitterly disappointing Aachen.

It really doesn’t get better than a Team Price 1/2 at a 4 star. I am pretty sure the last time it happened was with legends Wesko (Dash) and Faerie Dianimo (Maggie May) in Arville a few years ago. If Milo and Diego turn out to be half as good as those 5 star winners then the future looks bright indeed.