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  • Writer's pictureJacky Green

Aachen CCIO 3 star

Getting the call up for the Australian Team at Aachen is always a privilege and Sammi was delighted to be asked to go again with Hunter Valley ( Gizmo). As WEG edges closer the competition pressure begins to pile on and it was a full truck that headed out as Sammi also had Christine Bates' Adelaide Hill and Rob Palm's Koko Story on board. Ed Birch was chief driver as he has not only the skills but the perfect foil for any possible childcare duties that may arise on the way. No nanny this time either as the cost is comparable to a small villa for a week in Greece so Ed mostly had the added responsibility of keeping Charlie Birch alive for the duration of Aachen. I am glad to report that he was successful in this but he remains incapable of persuading Charlie to don appropriate clothes for any occasion.

Sammi and Gizmo warmed up for their dressage in more ways than one as the temps hit 30 on most days and while we gazed at the pure dressage horses in the next door ring executing tempi changes and piaffe and passage Giz remained thoroughly unimpressed as always and barely gave them a glance. Even when he did he put his ears back. Then he decided that he too could be a diva and he pretended to be scared of Hels as she approached with Sammi's tail coat and he ran backwards and reared in a pointless demo as nobody believes that Hels beats him on a daily basis. Then he tried to bolt while Sammi donned the said tail coat but since Gareth Hughes had a firm hold of the reins that didn't work either. After that he gave up and did a great test for a 26.5 and eventual 8th place.

Giz was pretty shocked to discover that instead of an evening of intimidating passers by in his stable he was to go showjumping. This was not in his plan of action but he dealt with it manfully and showed off in the warm up to Nelson Pessoa and tried to look like a pure jumper.Then he discovered when he got in the arena he was actually going to have to jump like a pure jumper as even though the fences for the class after ours stood another foot higher it was a tough and technical track. Sammi rode like a demon and Giz spent allot of time in the air and the result was one of the few clear rounds but some time to add. This dropped them down to 13th and you would have thought that Sammi had left the entire course flattened on the ground as she basically had a mini melt down about her time penalties. Since Ed and I have the same sort of reaction to emotional self flagellation we left Sam to it and beat a hasty retreat to the bar.

Saturday dawned clear and bright and another super hot day in Aachen. Giz was delighted he was an Aussie TB and pretended this was a mere spring day to him but he sweated like a proper trooper as it became clear he has been in the UK far too long to wave that flag! Giz jumped a big table in the warm up and gave it about three feet just to show off and then got a kick in the ribs from a rider who was not planning on wasting any time in the air on this round! They flew out of the start box and Giz had to be on his A game as Sammi put her foot flat to the floor and sped from tricky combination to tricky combination with three waters and a stack of skinnies along the way. Clear with just 4 time was the 5th fastest round of the day and was an incredible performance and although Sammi did look like a roasted tomato at the finish she was grinning from ear to ear which was so good to see. Individual 6th place was a fantastic result and the prize giving beckoned.

The top three teams plus the top 8 individually go into the prize giving in the stunning main arena and Giz finally got his own back as behaved like a totally spoilt brat, bucking and bunny hopping as he went down the chute and then careering sideways into the other horses in the line up. In a final act of humiliation Hels had to go in and attach a lead rein to him and while the other horses galloped round the hallowed turf in front of a huge cheering crowd Sammi had to led out of the ring looking like small child on a naughty pony. Rarely have I ever seen Giz look quite so smug.

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