Yet another grey and overcast day with plenty of gathering storm clouds overhead as a backdrop to the Upton House Estate in Warwickshire.  Upton lands at that sweet spot in the calendar where all the spring three day horses are back up and running again so the OI sections are stuffed full of well known horses and riders and this time, a fair few Paris potentials as well as riders sought one last quiet run with their precious horses.

Upton have a reputation for a huge amount of work being done on the ground as its runs in mid July.  In contrast to other years the ground was near perfect without any need for watering thanks to our damp squib of a summer so far!   It has its own unique stamp on a one day with the three phases fairly spread out and a rolling cross country track that makes the most of the acreage.  The showjumping arena is pretty basic, especially when you are fresh in from Aachen and Luhmuhlen, but it does have a sort of agricultural charm about it and the addition of a small child on the gate wishing competitors “Good Luck!” as they entered was either a sweet move or judicious use of child labour.

Hacking from the lorry park across the valley to the dressage livened up the morning for some of the riders and I don’t doubt Tim had Chio 20 firmly on the bit.  He did a lovely test for 28.4 and then when he was allowed to have a look around in the showjumping he lost his concentration slightly for an unusual 2 rails.  He redeemed himself cross country with a smooth clear however and was happy to sift at the truck for the afternoon with Falco whilst Tim started all over again with Vitali and Dromgurrihy Gold (Dara).

Falco was having his last run and Tim described him as “very bright” in his test for a 30.7.  He says that Falco used to be  fresh and would still do a lovely test but nowadays when he is fresh he’s on the naughty side which is what you get when you are a 5 star winner!  Another notch in his belt with a superb clear in the showjumping and a quiet run cross country to check all systems are go after Luhmuhlen.

Dara must have recognised his owners who had flown over from Ireland and he tried his heart out all day for a 29.8 and a clear in the jump ring which isn’t his easiest phase.  It was a tricky enough track for Dara with the undulations and not allot of fillers to back him up but he managed his long legs in admirable form before loving his run cross country.

I think the kindest thing to say about Vitali is that “he has summered well” which is what the hunt staff used to say to the subscribers coming out on well rounded hunters for Autumn hunting.  Vitali’s default look at the horsebox is “cross” which he does very well but he is allowed to talk the talk when he produces a 27.3 test, a solid clear over the poles and a super smooth cross country round for his first run back since Badminton.

Jonelle had a day of two halves as well with Grappa Nera (Grape), Full Monty de Lacense (FM) and Chilli’s Midnight Star (Ollie) in the  morning and then Hiarado (Jools)  in the afternoon.  Grape had a run in Maarsbergen a few weeks ago to tick a Paris qualification box but Upton was her first one day since Badminton and she was very bouncy for a 35.5 on the flat and a polished fun run cross country after another lovely clear showjumping.  Fellow advanced mate Ollie loves his one days and he bagged yet another prize with a 27.7 and a double clear with 9.2 time for 4th spot in his star studded section.  FM is still in intermediate points but he made a great fist of his day out with the grown ups with a 31.6 and a double clear with just 5.6 time to also pick up 5th place and a few more points so another triumphant return from his Millstreet three day.

Time to  start over again in the afternoon and if anyone appreciates one on one with Jonelle it is Jools. An accomplished test for a 28, a never-in-doubt lovely display in the showjumping and an effortless cruise around the intermediate to complete her competition prep for Paris.  Plenty of relieved people back at the horsebox when Falco and Jools were safely back in their pyjamas!

Back to Upton on Wednesday for both of them and then just Tim on Thursday with the 100 crew.