The week got off to a bad start when I got a call from Holly Farr (co-organiser) to tell me that I couldn't run 3 horses in the same class and that I need to read the rules! This was a fair comment, but I was gutted that I'd have to pick one to not jump, when they all really deserved to be there. It was decided that Cosmo should still go, as his owner was very excited that he was jumping at the final, so we would take Tiny, Leo and Cosmo in the 3 horse lorry and my friend was going to bring Acco up later in time for his Novice class. Holly said I could make my decision on which one to withdraw from the BE100 after jumping them in the BE90, but we were sort of tilting towards Tiny as we assumed Leo would get the better style marks. How wrong we were!
When we arrived I gave Tiny a pre-warm-up-warm-up and on my return I heard a lot of banging and saw Cosmo running out the lorry with nothing on his head. Anita said she noticed he had been looking behind him quite a lot and then just completely panicked and ended up half on the wrong side of the partition and the only way to get him untangled was to get his headcollar off and open the partition. We can only assume that there had been something in his rug had bitten him, or that the heavy falling snow had been repeatedly blowing into his newly clipped face and he'd had enough. Either way, he has always been an angel on the lorry so it must have been something totally unconnected. However, he had managed to give himself a number of cuts and bangs, and although sound, we had no idea what had caused it and it was decided it was safer not to jump him or put him back on.
Andrew Hunter was amazing and quickly found us a nice stable to put him in for the day and luckily I had brought an entire wardrobe of rugs as the relentless snow ensured it stayed ridiculously cold!
Now seriously late and nearing the end of the class in which I had two horses to jump, we quickly tacked up Leo and with a preparation that was hardly fair on him (despite the stewards being incredibly accommodating and friendly), he jumped a lovely double clear with a few time faults. I thought he was pretty quick but clearly the time was going to be tight today. Tiny then jumped a lovely double clear but again had a few time faults, both finishing out of the top 10 with pretty good style marks, which in all honesty was very disappointing.
With Cosmo out, the BE100 was down to Tiny and Leo. Tiny was first to go in the class and jumped a quick double clear with 3 time faults; her total score was 18. After leading for a long time, towards the end of the class she was beaten into 6th place. Leo jumped another lovely double clear but unfortunately finished out of the top 10. I was really disappointed to be pushed down but was so so thrilled with her performance - Tiny and Leo were the only 2 5yo's in the 43 strong class of qualified horses, and they were 2 of only 4 5yo's in the whole final, so I was absolutely delighted that between them they jumped 4 double clears with competitive style marks. Although of course I wanted to win, they did such a good job and couldn't have gone any quicker at the stage of training they're at.
As the Novice class progressed and there was no sign of Acco, we were starting to get really worried. Jess had got lost and sounded very stressed, and now nearing the end of the class and there was still no sign of him. He eventually arrived with literally two or three horses left to compete; we tacked him up as a three, legged me up and 3 warm up jumps later we were in the ring. He was my real chance of a win and I just had to put the warm up behind me and hope he could cope.
He jumped a faultless, stylish show jumping clear and I sent him on for the XC.
He was literally flying, had mastered every turn and angle in balance and style. I cut in tight and angled the bounce and was shortening him to give him the best chance to see it, get in close on a short stride ready to motor on to the next one and I heard a frantic clicking behind me... Acco leapt forward in reponse to this and ended up on such a hopeless half stride he had no choice but to stop. I was so angry I looked across to the gate and just said 'Who was clicking??!' while they rebuilt the fence, only to see Jess literally looking heartbroken - I think she had realised what had happened with the gate being so close to the bounce and Acco super sensitive to every command. I felt so sorry for Acco who had put his all into that round after such an unfair warm up.
But the bell went again and we carried on; with only a few fences left and I was still only on 4 faults, I thought I may as well keep up the pace, but it was pointless as with a stop I knew he would be well beaten on time and style. Of 35 entries, he had the 10th fastest round - with a stop - and I just felt so flat and fed up after such an emotional rollercoaster of a day.
To go to a final with a genuine chance of a win in 3 classes and come away with 4 double clears, and one round for 4 faults with only one placing, shows how competitive the sport has become in recent years and was extremely disappointing. However, longer term there are massive positives for my superstar babies and can't wait for the season ahead with them!
Unfortunately with the whole lorry saga, my superstar camera man Anita was unable to watch or film anything, as quite understandably, she didn't want to leave anything on the lorry unattended! So, no pictures this time :(
But take a look at these links for fab pictures from Ultimate Images