Photo Credit: Ultimate Images. Click on the photo for a link to their website.
There is nothing quite like Salisbury Plain in early April. You could literally have been teleported into Outer Mongolia and you would have more of a clue as to where in the world you were. One minute you are on the main road noting the proximity of the Macky D's for the drive home and the next you are in a barren, freezing wasteland with stumpy bushes that do their best to cling onto their roots.
There are some major benefits though... the organising team at Larkhill are the friendliest you will meet on the circuit and the event will only cancel because of snow. There is never any need for wellies and it always, quite literally, blows the cobwebs away!
The horses find it manically exciting and rarely do you see more loose horses than here! Something to do with the panoramic view of the racecourse below the lorry park and the cross country in the distance maybe? Anyway, with all of this in mind Sammi's debut outing on Finduss PFB ( Louis) was not nearly as exciting as it could have been!. A very bouncy Louis scored a 33 in his novice test which was more than acceptable before pinging round the showjumping clear and then being firmly anchored cross country for 19 time faults. I think Louis would have far preferred to have had a proper gallop but the fences were way too small for that to happen!
Calcourt Valley (Kevin) didn't actually make it off the truck as his passport turned out to be a few days out of the new 6 month vaccination rule which was fairly frustrating to say the least but stablemate Calcourt Verona (Ringo) made up for it with a 28, a rail and a lovely cross country clear for 4th in his 100 section.
Sheepdrove Cariad ( Carrie) is just one of those lovely, fun, easy and obliging horses and he scored a 33, had a single rail and popped round the cross country in time to make the top 15 in his section. Cooley Countdown ( Riz) belongs to Nicky Pack and has been with Sammi for just a few weeks but a very polished dressage of 22 and a clear showjumping meant that elusive first win of 2019 looked to be on the cards. Sammi even wore a watch to ensure that she would come home with zero penalties but despite her best efforts the combination of a lovely young horse and the fast ground saw her coming home with 0.4 time penalties for going too fast! Danni Evans, who clearly looked at her watch before the finish flags were in sight, then took the lead by 0.1 leaving Sammi in the runner up slot.
As if that was not humiliating enough then Susan Lamb's and Lyndon McCleod's stunning young horse, Kincooley Read My Mind ( Indie) made her eventing debut and was looking hot to trot with a 31 dressage and a clear showjumping. She then managed to pick up a 20 at fence 1 which is something that hasn't happened for a very long time to Sammi! You can see by the photo what a special young horse she is and I am sure whole experience will be something she will learn massively from.
Meanwhile Sammi is going to have to train herself to actually look at her stopwatch and ride down to the first fence like a madwoman at the next event!