I am still on a bit of a high from not only getting to my first event abroad but Ali going so well at only her second CIC** especially so early on in the season! I am very grateful to Nick Gauntlett for offering for me to travel with Team Gauntlett and all his support and help once out in France.
After Ali and I arriving to load lorries on Monday, we left Chescombe Farm at 3:30am on the Tuesday morning heading to Dover. Ali settled well in a lorry unknown to her and I am amazed how well all the horses travelled, they were very relaxed as soon as they were in their stables and none of them seemed tired! I had a couple of days to get Ali used to the arenas as we didn’t do dressage until the Friday morning. It was great to watch all the international riders working their horses and meet the other members of the British Nations Cup team, which Nick was a part of.
We had an early start on Friday morning for my dressage at 8:37am! She relaxed well and I was pleased how settled she stayed in the rather spooky arena. She performed a lovely test with just a little tension in the right shoulder in and half pass. I was especially pleased with her rein back, which she has tended to rush in the past. I was thrilled with her score of 44.8 achieving my aim of 70% with room for improvement still!! See the video of her test here. We lay 19th (out of a 103 starters) after the dressage phase!
On Saturday we did our show jumping in the morning before the CICO*** went XC in the afternoon. I was slightly daunted with the French show jumping distances when I walked the course, especially through the combinations that were much longer than those in the UK (Nick assured me Ali would be fine!). Nick was so helpful to me working in and I think I was as relaxed as I have ever been going into a show jumping round, she felt brilliant! We were jumping in the huge Grand Parquet, which was a fantastic experience for both Ali and I – she didn’t appear to be at all phased by it and jumped a lovely round with just one unlucky pole falling. See the video of her show jumping round here. Even with our 4 faults we held 19th place going into XC.
Sunday and onto the XC – the track ran on sandy land in and out of the woods. The first major question was at the water at 6, which was quite intense consisting of white rails into the first pond, right turn to a step out to a curving left turn to a triple brush back into water and 4 strides to a fish/brush in the water. See photos of the course here. She set off very keen having not wanted to wait around at the start (she most certainly knew it was XC day) but felt great, I kept her fairly steady so she had time to see the first 4 fences, which were all through the woods. She flew through the water at 6, making nothing of abc and just slightly skewing at the fish but no question at all that she knew what to do and where she was going!! She jumped well through the coffin and made all the other combinations easily on the most direct routes for a fantastic clear 🙂 I took my time with the turns and through the woods, which meant we picked up quite a few time faults but this early in the season and with her slightly scaring herself at Isleham the most important thing here was going clear and we most certainly have our mojo back!! She finished in 47th place and is now qualified for CCI** too. See the album of all our fantastic photos of our week here provided by course photographer Les Garennes Photos (www.ouest-image.com)