The heading was planned to read “Rockingham Friday” but when Rockingham downed tools on Wednesday lunchtime and announced the cancellation of the entire event (2*s, 3*s, novice, intermediates, the whole 4 day shebang) it was Rachel Faulkner’s team at Tweseldown that stepped into the breach and brought the event forward a day and opened for entries that same afternoon.

Quite how Miranda Collett managed to section and timetable an entire day consisting of multiple riders and horses in such a short period of time is nothing short of miraculous. So many horses are heading into their spring three days short of runs and the day filled up within hours, such is the demand after the wettest spring in some 40 years.

Jonelle had five rides so she was expecting a busy day but she didn’t plan on finishing her last cross country after 7.30pm! They ended up a bit stacked at the XC warm up at the end of a long day but all her rides had gone well so she was pretty happy. L E B Lias Jewel (LJ or Jewel depending on your take) had made a couple of minor mistakes in the dressage for a 32 and Hiarado (Jools) was described by Jonelle as a bit “bubbly” in the walk for a 31. The boys were all in the 20’s with McClaren (Mac) on a 27, Chilli’s Midnight Star (Ollie) on a 26 and Senor Crocodillo (Diego) on a flashy 23. Jonelle even described herself as “the Queen of the clear rounds” as all five jumped without a rail in the main arena.

It’s the same Jump 1 course build team at Tweseldown but this year the designer has changed from Eric Winter to Andrew Heffernan. Jonelle was quick to point out that there was plenty to do, the track was more substantial and it was perfect for this group of experienced horses heading into spring three day events. Happy with her good prep runs Jonelle can now look forward to an unexpected weekend off!

Tim had four rides which included the talented trio of Falco, Happy Boy and Jarillo (Milo) and Dromgurrihy Gold (Dara) stepping up to his second start at intermediate. The three big boys all scored in the mid twenties, all popped clear rounds in the main arena and all cruised around a decent track with the consulate ease you would expect. Between Happy and Falco they have 4 and 5 star wins, a World bronze medal and a Le Lion d’Angers Young Horse World Championship so fun for Tim to run around an intermediate course. Jarillo is a few points shy of 100 BE marks now and he is no stranger to the podium either. His double clear was spot on and these three head off to Millstreet for their next start.

Dara was probably feeling the heat a bit with his super flash stablemates leaving him very much the new boy on the block. He got a bit flustered in his dressage and forgot how do do some basics for a 42 and then alternated between showjumping like Milton to gawping at something and forgetting to clear two rails. Smarting from the humiliation of going down to the start on some 50 penalties, twice that of his fellow travellers, he then pulled out all the stops and went brilliantly cross country from start to finish and Tim declared him “feeling like a 5 star horse in the making”. Big praise indeed. Tim can teach a horse dressage, help him develop technique for the jumping but a horse has to have natural ability and a love for cross country to make it through the grades. It was quite a big ask for Dara having only jumped around Aston Le Walls intermediate but he certainly came home a proud gangly chestnut!

Tim gets the weekend off then returns on Monday with Chio 20 and Volani. The team worked their socks off as always and finally it is starting to dry up and not be quite such hard work slogging through the mud. We seem to be about month behind sunshine wise but it definitely feels like summer is finally on the horizon.

Photo credit James Good. Anyone for polo?