On Sunday we made our way north and with very sociable times didn’t have to leave until 9am! We hadn’t been to Cholmondeley before but it looked like a stunning venue and that it was
Having walked the XC course when we first arrived, Donovan felt good and very keen to get going when I first got on but relaxed and performed well in the dressage scoring 29.5 – a little tension at the beginning of the test and me forgetting whether we were meant to be doing extended or free walk and trotting too soon up the last centre line (meant to me X not D…) meant we weren’t quite up there with the leaders! Our times were quite close together so it was straight onto show jumping – I watched a few to get the course in my head then started working in – this part didn’t quite go as planned as Donovan was not enjoying the very hard ground in the warm up. I decided to stop jumping and just get him with me in the canter moving him forward and back to get him listening. He felt better in the ring over the first 2 fences and despite awkward jumps at the 3rd and 4th he tried so hard to keep his toes away from the poles and jumped a fabulous clear round!!
Onto the XC – the fence that worried me most was a big brush corner at fence 11 on the top of the hill with the ground sloping away from it – luckily it was quite close to the lorry park so I went to have a 2nd look and watch a few horses over it before I got on!
To see the rest of the course photos click here.
He felt great in the warm up, really listening (with our recent new set of brakes firmly attached!) Early on the course I was really pleased how well he settled into his rhythm and was jumping all the “plain” fences beautifully out of his stride. At fence 8 he maybe had a half thought about going right – likely as I didn’t pick up his right shoulder enough on the left turn but stayed straight and jumped the triple brush really well. I got a nice deep stride into the rail before my bogey corner fence, went on a straight line keeping focused on the commentary box (see it!!!) and he flew over!!! Big pat and onto the rest… To see a video of us through fences 8-11 click here!
He was just great the rest of the way round including through the rail-ditch-rail that was fairly steep and had been causing a few problems. As I landed over the second last I had 15 secs to get home so knew I would be close, steadied up for the last (probably a little too much but my fall with Ali at the last a couple of years ago still haunts me!) to finish just 4 secs over the time for 1.6 time penalties.
So we finished double clear on 31.2 to get 3rd place – so happy with him and now fingers crossed we get to Somerford 2* in one piece… Can’t wait for the professional photos to go up, hope there are some good ones 🙂