Barroca d'Alva week one.
I can confirm that it is quite a long way to go to Barroca ( not least when you are limited to a whopping 56MPH) and with Hunter Valley ( Gizmo) and Finduss PFB (Loopy Louis) on board it meant several stops for grazing and leg stretching. France for sure has the best stops for this, Spain isn't great and quite where Sammi thought we were going to find a safe spot in mountainous Portugal is a mystery. Although to give her her due we did pull into lots of them to double check whilst I managed to find the smallest garage in the entire 1500 mile journey which had the added challenge of half the exit being coned off.
There were many highlights to the journey such as bearing witness to the amount of food that Sammi can consume whilst retaining her trim figure. Hels is able to make coffee on the go whatever the terrain and serve it with a smile to the front and not having an i phone holder to read the sat nav is really annoying as it slides off the dash at the crucial intersections. Stabling at Le Mans in France and Bougas in Spain meant that the big orange divvy that is Louis could display to everyone how rude he is when he is keen to get off the truck although it was quite amusing to see that Hels can sort of moon walk alongside him as he charges down the ramp and heads off down the precipice to the stables.
When we finally did arrive it was to possibly the most laid back event site I have seen since Punchestown in the early 90's. Friendly and helpful and really quite charming with course builders doubling up as stable managers and all the elements that clearly make three days driving worthwhile.
Dressage on Thursday and Sammi was delighted with Louis who found the relaxed atmosphere much to his liking and posted a 32 in the 4*S although the judges couldn't quite agree with the Italian having him somewhat bafflingly in first position ( methinks he has a big daft chestnut at home), the Kiwi in third and the Brit a rather uncharitable 13th ( aka 2nd last). Gizmo did some super work but managed to stay out of the 20's by spooking at the only puddle in sight for miles around with a 30.4 for 2nd place. Friday saw the showjumping and Giz dropped a place to 3rd with one second over the time and a clear and good old Louis posted a clear in time for a climb up the leaderboard.
Cross country was at the end of a very long day on Saturday and Sammi and Louis went early on with a clear adding just 6.8 time for eventual 5th spot before Giz set out at the end of the class and in light that was beginning to fade. He and Sammi smashed their first cross country run since Aachen in 2018 and loved every minute of it. Just 4.8 time left them comfortably in third place and a great comeback result for the pair of them.
A rest week now and Ed and Charlie are flying out to join Sammi and Hels before the 4*L in the first week of December. The weather is great, the sun is shining and Sammi has finally got her and her advanced horses out...in mid November. You couldn't have made this up last year.