A girls weekend away with Sammi, Hels and Direct Tullyoran Cruise ( Tully ) flying the flag for girl power with a trip to Haras de Jardy. Charlie Birch was also in tow as the token male and I am sure, having allot of his fathers genes in him, he was as demanding as most boys on an away weekend.
The original plan was for the ERM class but a little known rule that the rider must have completed at least one CI4*S this season in order to start in the ERM scuppered that plan! If it had been 150 BE100 starts it would have been fine but hey ho...The CI4*S that they now run in has plenty of very nice horses and riders in it, it just doesn't have the pressure or the prize money of the ERM.
Posting a 33.6 dressage was no disgrace for Jocelyn Riley's hot headed mare and that left them in 24th( out of 59 starters) but just 13 marks off the lead. Its their fisrt start in an international and only their second advanced test together ( the first was in a field at Little Downham so hardly comparable to the atmosphere in Jardy!). The team were pleased that definite progress is being made in this phase.
The showjumping was altered a little bit from the ERM track which is always designed with maximum technicality and a very tight time but it didn't jump any easier! 60 odd horses in this class ( just 29 in the ERM) and clear rounds few and far between. Sammi and Tully added just 0.8 of time to start really climbing up the leaderboard.
Thanks to the great showjumping round they started the cross country in 17th place. The ERM class had caused plenty of drama with several high profile casualties so I should imagine Sammi was happy to get going and head out of the start box.
Tully was certainly happy to get going and she jumped her socks off throughout the round and gave Sammi a superb ride. The combinations were relentless and the twists and turns make it tough as its not a smooth passageway around a Pierre Michelet track with forward distances to skinnies and angles and also with his trademark use of siting fences on mounds to help unbalance you.
The last combination on track was a triple of skinny brush arrowheads.. and not on a straight line! They had probably been the most influential fences in the ERM and Tully paid the price of jumping A nearly too well which made it nigh on impossible to get the line to B. It was a genuine drive by and not an ungenuine run out and full marks to Tully to come around again and jump B and C having had a problem.
It shows how tough it was when Sammi picked up a 20 jumping and 19 time and retained her 17th place! "More steering required" was Sammi's observation but I think she should be proud of the relationship she is building with the uber talented but very quirky personality that Tully is. The experience they have built up together is invaluable and they can't do that by just sitting in OI's. Hats off to them for giving it a crack!
And the photo shows the excitement was all too much for Charlie Birch! I love Hel's multi tasking though.... lets take sleeping child and make use of the pram to take the bucket, sponge and head collar to the finish! No doubt she has a stud spanner hidden in there somewhere as well! He really does follow Ed's behaviour after a good Sunday lunch!
Photo credits to Hels Tagg.