It’s a good 5 hour drive from Chedington to Osberton so the team drove up yesterday afternoon and stabled some 30 miles (with thanks to host Roger Burtt) away which turned out to be a good plan when both Tim and Jonelle had 8 am dressage tests!

Osberton used to run in October as the end of season 2 and 3 star long format events and incorporated the Young Horse British Champs but when the Young Horse classes were moved to Cornbury it was a bit of a blow to Osberton.  They now have this spring fixture with a 2S and a 3S and luckily for us, added a day of National classes on the Friday.  I say luckily as it is still raining here and most of the other events this week have abandoned, including the ill fated Solihull which abandoned, then took the abandoned Bovington dates, then were forced to abandon again.  The team took 11 horses showjumping on Wednesday but this was a run that really was needed for the intermediate and advanced horses so good to get the best of the ground.

Tim said it walked ‘good’ at first light this morning but unsurprisingly it didn’t take long to get cut up.  The score board certainly showed plenty of 20’s and some E’s and R’s and you would assume it was a tough track but Jonelle confirmed that it was more “pokey and small” which doesn’t often result in positive experiences!

Tim’s crew were “easy on him” he said in the  dressage with Dromgurrihy Gold (Dara)  and new ride Garcon (Tibo) both running in the intermediate divisions.  Dara was awarded a 35 but jumped himself into prize contention with a clear round and then a speedy cross country for just 4.8 time for 3rd spot which was all the nicer as his owner / breeder Michael McGrath had flown over from Ireland for the day to watch him.  Tibo has been denied all of his proposed starts and missed his planned Open Novice run but he breezed his first intermediate with Tim with a 28 and a rail and was “mighty keen to run fast cross country” but was anchored for some 16 time faults.  Tibo was produced in France to 3 star  and the French generally don’t hang about cross country at any level!  Tim was super happy both with Tibo and the opportunity to finally get a run on him.

Jonelle had Full Monty de Lacense  (FM) in the intermediate and he scored a 35 which is the sort of midfield mark you get at the one days if you are not a flashy mover.  He rolled a pole which Jonelle said was down to him feeling not quite like his normal self but he redeemed himself with a super cross country round for a clear and she said “he was really good” which is Jonelle speak for high praise indeed.

Tim and Viscount Viktor had a polished test for a 27.1 and then somewhat inexplicably had the first fence down in the showjumping before jumping a lovely clear thereafter!  He cruised cross country and gave Tim a lovely ride.

Falco and Coup de Coeur Dudevin (Joker) were having their first runs after their 4Long in Kronenberg and Tim said it was real fun to have them back.  Joker scored a 29.1, just pipping Falco on a 29.6.  He said that Falco felt really cheeky, like he does at the start of the season which was great as he didn’t quite feel like that going into Kronenberg.  They both jumped immaculate double clears and Tim really couldn’t have had a better day of cross country runs  as his last run before Badminton which is always a bonus.

Meanwhile Jonelle’s two advanced horses were nothing if not “hot” in the dressage.  Hiarado (Jools)  and Chilli’s Midnight Star (Ollie) both blew their walks with Jools jogging and Ollie reefing the reins and trotting but Jonelle strenuously denies that she has ” a hot arse”.  I guess it’s just the type she likes!  She described them both as “naughty” on the flat which was reflected in their marks as Jools was on a 31 and Ollie on a 34.

Ollie knocked a rail which Jonelle said was odd as he actually jumped very well.  Jools didn’t touch a fence as was to be expected and she went down to the cross country start as the first horse of the day.

Jonelle’s ‘ bank of near doom’ at Thorseby ( where Grappa Nera aka Grape nosedived on landing and they both nearly came unstuck) made an appearance at Osberton, with a skinny this time four strides in front of it instead of behind, but minus the brush on the back.  It is very much an artificial bank which is simply towed into position and Jonelle says they survived a heart stopping moment when Jools, whose  middle name is “hold my beer and watch this”,  decided the best approach was to jump the bank in its entirety.  Jonelle says it was a gasp moment but they survived and a couple of horses later it was taken out of the competition.  Jonele and Jools had an uneventful clear after that which came as a mighty relief.

Ollie was sporting a new bit for the cross country which was an American gag.  Ollie said very much a No to the new bit and incurred a 20 at the double of skinnies which caused allot of problems although  Jonelle’s problem was quite different to most others.  Ollie hated the new bit, went numb to the hand and instead of running off the second arrowhead went off in the opposite direction after the first which Jonelle pointed out “was not very helpful”!

Back to the drawing board for Ollie bit wise but again, a good outing for Jonelle before her Badminton return next week. When they do eventually get back to Chedington tonight they have a weekend with Abel and Otis to look forward to and they can put their final touches to Vitali and Grappa Nera ( Grape) for one of the coolest and most nerve wracking events of the year….Badminton here we come!