Updated: Aug 23
Photo: Hunter Valley excels himself in his one and only job at Burgham. Credit probably Hels Tagg!
I would like to say that there was great excitement in the Birch household at the prospect of the first true International of 2020 with the buzz of stabling and staying away but there were three factors that went against that.... one, they are not young riders and they like their home, two, stabling away requires allot more work and three, it's nearly Scotland and Storm Ellen was due to crash the party.
Hunter Valley (Gizmo) was on the truck to compete in the most expensive dressage test ever as he hasn't jumped yet after his "I managed to insert a splinter into my fetlock" ruse which has seen him take more furlough this summer than your average travel agent. To be fair to Giz he did a beautiful test to score 25.8 in an enormous 4 star section and had he finished on it, he would have been 2nd. Instead that glory fell to Laura Collet on Mr Bass who did finish on that score. Of course Giz knew he wasn't going to run so pulled out all the stops when it mattered the least. Thank you Lyndon and Jude McLeod for the entry fee and the stabling which gave Giz his much awaited staycation. Giz thinks this is an awesome way to go eventing.
The Kincooley Ceili (William) has had a fair amount of time since he saw a 4 star track, back in 2018 to be precise and he was on flying form. He scored 70% on the flat for a 30.6, of course jumped clear around a serious showjumping track which took allot of scalps and must have been measured by Scotty ( Ian Stark) as the time was ridiculously tight. He just added 1.6 for time and then headed out on a very grown up track which made the most of the undulating ground that is the Scottish Borders. There was a combination at 9 which required much use of the mounds and slopes and the turn to the last corner was not particularly flowing. Sammi took the inside line and blames herself for William's misinterpretation of the fence, picked up a 20 and then zipped around the rest of the course easily. Sammi says she "rode badly" which is a little dramatic as Sammi doesn't actually know how to ride badly and it was just the one fence which claimed allot of faults throughout the day.
Finduss PFB (Louis) excelled himself in the dressage to produce some very smart trot work and provided Sammi, Parkfield Breeding and dressage trainer Alex Franklin with much hope for the future. Any worries he may be sick were outed when the canter work became much more of the normal Louis with it being, lets say, not exactly calm and harmonious. Still, a score of 35 is a massive PB for Louis at 4 star and knocks a whopping 5 marks off his 2019 Burgham score. It's progress for sure.
Somewhat annoyingly Louis managed to have a rail in the ( tricky) SJ which is usually his forte but he was still on a 39 heading out of the startbox compared with 44 last year. In 2019 he added 20 time faults but this year he and Sammi pinged around for just 5.6 so it really is a genuine massive team effort to get this mentally challenged big orange unique person to realise his own capabilities. It's there, Jim, just not as we know it. (Thats a sort of quote from the 90's for our younger readers).
Kincooley Read My Mind (Indie) also thought she was on a Staycation with Gizmo until Saturday when she suddenly found herself in a dressage arena performing a 2*S test. This is her first FEI International competition and she did not disappoint with a 30.1 which leaves her in 14th overnight in another enormous field. The good thing is that they are fairly early in the class so after a very assured and grown up double clear adding some 14 time Indie ticked all the boxes for her qualifications and ended the weekend on a really positive note. The crew were all done by 10.30 am so they should be home in time for dinner and some reflection on what has been a great weekend.