The rain drummed on the roof of the lorry for all of Friday night which is never a cheery sound when cross country is the next phase.  Another sound that is not very pleasant is one of an intruder in the truck and Jonelle, always the lightest of sleepers, woke up at 3.52 am  to see a guy with a torch at the top of the steps into the living.  Jonelle in full on attack mode was enough to send him fleeing back down the steps but pretty unsettling!

Wiesbaden is so different from so many events in that it really is in the midst of an urban setting, much like Aachen.  Tim expressed some incredulity in the way that they jam so much into a site that is considerably smaller than Aachen but still hosts multiple disciplines at the same time.  Jonelle described the event as “a cauldron of intensity” which is exactly the reason that they chose to take Coup de Coeur Dudevin (Joker) and Hiarado (Jools) there…to gain as much exposure as possible to atmospheres that align with Championship experience.

It had stopped raining by the time that cross country started at 2pm but the ground was deep in places and slippery in others.  Both Joker and Jools needed this run as a qualification for Paris but as Tim said, they did have the benefit of seeing a few go and with a balance of attaining a clear completion and the natural competitive instinct that kicks in it turned out to be a really great competition.  It didn’t walk big after Badminton but it sure had enough places where a mistake could be made and by dint of the small area plenty of hairpin bends to negotiate as well.

Joker was smooth, fast and clear with one of only three rounds in single figures time faults to take the runner up slot behind Felix Vogg.  Jonelle was 6th fastest, adding 14 time to finish up in 6th spot and she was delighted with Jools for her first big run back since Pau in 2023.  9 of the 28 cross country starters didn’t come home so they had every right to be “happy with a good weekend at the office” as Tim put it.  Jonelle was planning on plenty of work on Jool’s relaxation in the walk and Rosie and Jess were glad they just had one final walk to the truck to fetch it for the trip home!

Both Joker and Jools pulled up well and should be out in the paddocks by Sunday morning.  It feels like the countdown to Paris is really on now that Badminton is behind us and all the focus is on the Olympics.  The road to Paris really does start from here and lets hope it’s a straightforward one.