Here is the cunning plan. Tigger (Fleet Street) is troubled by a cracked hoof, so we don’t compete this season and save him for Burghley. A quick whiz round Hartpury 3* till just passed the first water and pack our bags in the splendid new lorry with Sponsors’ signs firmly affixed. Don’t do arena familiarisation and walk up with 5minutes to spare straight into the test. This is based on the fact that the first 20 minutes of work are always amazing before the electric backside powers him into airs above the ground. Go in, surprize him, just a warm-up, no need to stress and that applies to both of us. Didn’t work. Explosion. Last.
Then why didn’t I take the oxer instead of the gate? Didn’t. Fell. No further comments on the worst piece of decision making possible.
Back to the cunning plan. Romania was the best event of last year with the most friendly people and a very jovial atmosphere. Let’s back our bags again and go with three horses on board because Juniors 1 and 2 were wait-listed at Osberton. Three days of easy travel – thank you mother for fixing ferries, routes, overnight stables and sputniks – and we are welcomed by one and all. Quick summary, Tigger is third, the 6 year old mare was overwhelmed by the crowd and attractions to be retired after the water, the stallion came 5th. We celebrated with the lovely Dennis Sampson (topless owner after six bottles of wine) groom Emily Tamblyn and my valiant part-timer Lyn who came along for the ride. Two longish days for the journey home; I got lost round Calais again and ended up near Dover putting the blue stuff in the lorry instead of diesel. A lot of singing and a good number of card games saw us through to home. Now here is the thing, the refund from the Osberton entries came to over £1300 and the trip cost us £920 with added winnings of E650. GO to Romania, it’s cheaper, more fun and less competitive.
Ah the plan; well Tigger had jumped a total of 46 fences all year, the hoof hadn’t split so why not add our name to the entries at Pau. Email Pau, email the very helpful and kind Gemma at BE and we are accepted on the Thursday to leave on Monday morning. Lyn is still keen on another road trip, providing the dogs don’t come. Mother plans it all again and loaded with lettuce, marmite and mayo sandwiches we head to Pau. Three brilliant days of showing off our half passes, changes and extended trot and we are ready to wow the judges. Enter arena, trot ok scoring around 52, walk dodgy and then unrestrained gallop. Last. Due to the very late entry, we are near the end of the order so have to wait and watch a cascade of stops and falls round a typical Michelet course of twists, skinnies and turns. The ground is awful, soft sand and greasy clay so we will go slowly, jump clear and save the hoof. Clear, yes, yes but too slow. The decision making dodgy again and the hoof let us down so we didn’t trot up.
The good – I am now back to being a B rider for next year with less pressure on qualifications and I have five Juniors all passed the 1* level. The bad – I’m going to sell Tigger as he can’t take me any further and deserves a better rider to realise his enormous potential. The eliminations- only the tricky novice track at Bicton, an over-faced Intermediate at Keysoe and the Burghley fall. Hurrah.