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  • Jacky Green

Le Lion D'Angers Cross Country 21st October

Sunshine and ferocious showers were the order of the day and luckily Sammi got to go in the sunshine. The Kincooley Ceili ( William) was as gobsmacked as every other Le Lion debutante as its a fairly quiet affair at Le Lion until the cross country day. A fair few of the tradestands barely bother to open before Friday afternoon, the biggest thrill they get is the arena decoration in the dressage ( which William found especially spooky) and then they wake up on Saturday morning to discover that half of France has rocked up to the racecourse and there are simply thousands of people that have arrived on site!

Hels did a great job of getting William and Sammi into the start box and then having managed to avoid being trampled she left Sammi to control half a tonne of wild eyed beast as she departed on her journey. The first fence ( a giant watering can that has a span of around 20 feet) is the biggest, most shocking fence a horse has ever seen, the second, a colourful array of giant pencils is sited by the beginning of the huge crowds and then the steep incline up the hill out of the racecourse is sectioned into terraces which throw the horses completely out of their rhythm. A little further on a giant spider sits at the base of a hill followed by a leap of faith into what looks like water but turns out to be a surface that you cross en route to the sharp right hand turn off the surface... which has just appeared magically in the woods... you can completely understand why William was wide eyed with the shock and awe tactics and Sammi did an amazing job of getting him to focus on the fences and not the huge crowds that engulf the course.

Its an interesting fact that horses only see crowds like this in the UK at Badminton and Burghley. By the time they get to these venues they are at least 9 years old , if not considerably older, and you don't want to be heading out at your first 4 star with your horse gawping at the crowds. In Europe Le Lion , Aachen and Boekelo are known for them and its one of the reasons you take a good young horse to Le Lion... for education. They learn so much from it and its a bit like learning the international ropes from the start. William is without doubt a precociously talented cross country horse but he needed all of Sammi's considerable international experience for the first 4 minutes of that track. He did take a breath after that and start to concentrate on the fences and was simply brilliant. The time faults that they picked up were gained at the start of the round and Le Lion is the FEI World Championships for Young Horses and quite rightly, if you are down on the clock at the first minute its pretty impossible to catch up. Queen of speed Izzy Taylor was forced into a long route at the first water after a trip up the step and even she couldn't make the time back up!

So Sammi has slipped three places back to 23rd but just a tiny bit over 2 rails from the lead. No one is a better showjump rider than our Sammi and William is also a very good jumper so I am predicting that they will move up into the top 10 tomorrow for sure. ( That is either going to be a curse or an amazing prediction but since I don't believe in fate we will be fine!) ( Although maybe I do believe in Karma so not sure how that pans out...)

Meanwhile Le Lion had a few massive showers but we are being battered by Storm Brian in the UK which is a pain in the butt as Hunter Valley ( Gizmo) was being taken by lifesaver Khia Cadney-Moon to Jonelle Price's this afternoon as the plan was for Jonelle to leave at 8pm for Pau with the precious Gizmo and Faerie Dianimo on board. Currently the ferries are not taking horses as the sea is so rough so we will keep you posted on that journey!

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