The rain held off overnight so it was a sunny start to the day at Thorseby which was very welcome.  The 4S horses jumped in the main arena which, even at 9am in the morning, had a buzzy crowd in place keen for an Easter Day out. Happy Boy and Tim rolled a vertical for 4 faults before Jonelle and Grappa Nera (Grape) jumped a very enthusiastic clear round.  Grape doesn’t always make things easy for Jonelle but she really does love her jumping!

Vitali was sporting a new fluffy noseband…or a shadow roll if you are a Kiwi….and jumped a super clear round with Tim.  Senor Crocodillo (Diego) also jumped a lovely clear but picked up 2 time which is usually pretty tight at the 4 star level.

Jarillo was in the second  4* S section and he jumped his usual immaculate clear round to sit in second place after the first two phases behind stable mate Copper Beach (Sean) who led the section with Cosby Green.

Chilli’s Midnight Star (Ollie) jumped in his advanced section and picked up 4 faults and a couple of time faults for his first big track of the year.

Ollie was the first to head out cross country with Jonelle as the advanced preceded the 4S sections.  They continued to build the partnership that really came together at Blenheim last year with a really positive round which saw Ollie relishing using his scope when asked to.

Happy and Tim have a good reputation in the mud despite Happy not being the biggest of horses.  They skipped around the track with none of the cheeky 20’s he has started the season with and looked really classy for just 12 time and eventual 10th place in a very  strong section.

Jonelle and Grape needed a 4S completion here in order to tick the box to go 5 star at Badminton as she has had some time out.  Grape set out with her usual verve and all was going well until the new bank combination which consisted of a false bank ( ie man made ) with a 5′ drop off and four forward strides down the hill to a skinny brush. Grape leapt onto the bank, bounced off and stumbled on landing and went right down on her knees on the steep slope and quite how both she and Jonelle stayed upright is testament to the steely determination they both possess. There was no chance of jumping the skinny (although Jonelle did aim for it) with just one stride ahead of  it with all four hooves on the ground so they picked up a 20 before running confidently around the rest as though nothing had happened.  Which was perfect as if Grape had gone down or Jonelle had fallen off they would have had to have headed to Burnham Market for the next 4S and that was definitely not part of Jonelle’s plan!

No such drama for Diego and Jonelle as they tackled the course in their customary stylish fashion.  Diego jumped with confidence and gusto and they crossed the finish with some 17 time and a great prep run for Saumur under their belts.

Tim had said that he was keen to give Vitali a ‘proper’ work out cross country if he could as his Burghley prep last year was a good run short when Gatcombe abandoned.  They set out looking the cool duo that they are and then had a pretty long hold just before the 3 corners when Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On dropped the pin at the second of them.  They picked up a great rhythm again and with just 10 time ended up in 4th spot.

Milo had the worst ground of the day in many ways….when ground that wet starts to dry in the sun it gets tackier by the hour and the take off points for the fences get deeper no matter how much sand is chucked on it.  But Milo is a quick learner and having been suspicious of the mud at Lincoln a couple of weeks ago today he just jumped higher when he thought it was a bit sticky! Tim gave him a peach of a ride for 19 time and a very educational round.  And lo and behold as the ground and track took its toll on the class of more inexperienced horses than the Grantham Cup class (just 25 cross country finishers out of a start list for dressage of 50) it turned out that Tim and Milo took their first international win for 2024.  Quite the weekend with a win, a 4th and a 10th and Tim is certainly hitting the ground running in 2024.

The ground crew at Thorseby worked tirelessly all day to shovel sand and gravel onto the soft spots and there was no doubt that the tacky ground was more to some horses taste than others but it was “box ticked” for the Badminton and Saumur  bound horses for Team Price which should make the long trek home a little easier.  Congratulations to the whole crew and Happy Easter to all!

Photo credit James Good.  Milo embraces the mud!

Photo credit: James Good.  Tim was dressed for the home bound trip not the prize giving!