|Tweseldown Racecourse – Eventing Continues Whilst Point-To-Point Racing Is No More|
Tweseldown’s sad demise as a Point-To-Point course last year due to financial pressures did have a silver lining in the form of an improved course for the Open Intermediate classes. With no racing, much more of the turf course has been made available for eventing, including a new start, which I for one think is a godsend. The old start box was a messy affair stuck in the middle of site with sandy tracks leading off in all directions.
|Noble Bestman Gets The OI Classes Started In The Mist|
It’s never been a favourite course of mine personally, but it does usually provide an assured first run in the south for those heading to Badminton, and whilst I can’t identify any of them, quite a few of the entries we have for Badminton were out in the OI classes today. Laura Collett has already mentioned on twitter that she has entered both Noble Bestman and Rayef for Badminton so I won’t be spoiling anything by mentioning she had both her Badminton bound horses here at Tweseldown, although she only ran Noble Bestman cross country as the ground was very deep and sticky in places thanks to a good dump of rain early in the morning and it stayed grey all day.
The first person I met on arrival was one of farriers, Paul, that I know, and he mentioned that he had already seen to four horses that had pulled shoes off. I also spotted 2 people carrying thrown shoes, and heard the commentator mention one of Chris Burton’s horse’s had thrown a shoe and it was winging it’s way back to him via one of the score collectors. Despite all this and a few withdrawals the majority of the ground held up well, and the only real losers were those less experienced riders who misjudged the odd stride here and there.
By the time Intermediate dressage got underway the rain had eased off and we were left with just a heavy mist in the air. I had made a point to watch Noble Bestman as this horse is coming up into the top rank, and is something of a ‘lively’ ride of Laura Collett’s. Taking that into consideration and a recent wind op, he performed a decent test, if a little impatient in the halts, and as Laura put it on twitter “he is a cross country machine” although he clearly wasn’t pushed, cruising comfortably past me, finishing half a minute over the optimum time to end up in fourth.
|Laura Collett & Noble Bestman – “A Cross Country Machine”|
American riders at these smaller events are a rarity, but one of the classiest riders from the US I’ve ever come across is Clark Montgomery, who has moved to the UK semi-permanently, and he had two horses here today, one that I’ve seen before, Loughan Glen, and a new one to me called Universe. Watching Clark on Universe in the dressage warm up you could see this wasn’t the most straightforward horse (or at least not today), but a lovely looking animal, and boy can it jump!
The fence judge at the water, suggested to the commentator that Universe has had a sticky moment at the water, but I think a number of horses had trouble with the first few steps into the water.
|Clark Montgomery & Universe – Giving The Fences Plenty Of Room Despite An Unlucky Rail.|
Daisy Berkeley’s amazing 4* horse, SpringBok IV, now 18 years old, looked to be thorughly enjoying the cross country, and needed no encouragement from what I could see, despite finishing at the end of the class.
|Daisy Berkeley & Springbok IV|
Whilst I was at the same fence Lucy Jackson came through on Animator II, and even as she jumped this triple brush you could see her smiling and hear her having a joke with herself or the horse as she moved onto the next fence. 2012 was something of a ground breaking year for Lucy and she is fast becoming the most serious contender for that ever fluctuating 4th slot on the NZL team. Tall, stylish, witty, pretty and talented, having a couple of decent consistent horses I wouldn’t bet against her for Normandy 2014.
|Lucy Jackson & Animator II|
William Fox-Pitt naturally had a fist full of rides, including 2 acquired from other riders, Chilli Morning & Running Order. The horse below caught my eye as he looked fit enough to run a 4* Grand Slam back-to-back. He was clearly itching to go cross country in the dressage warm up, yet William still managed to get a 32.7 dressage and clear showjumping before letting the horse loose on XC. I suppose that’s what makes William, William.
|William Fox-Pitt & Freddie Mac – This Horse Looked As Fit As A Greyhound|
It certainly wasn’t the greatest day weather wise, and by mid afternoon we were stuck with a heavy mist/drizzle that played merry hell with camera focus and I eventually gave up trying to get any more shots.
All in all Tweseldown plays a key role in the calendar, and for me is a welcome day away from the day job at this time of year. It gives you an early indication of who is getting ready for Badminton, and how those early season plans are going. It’s also given me a few ideas of where I might go to look for a new horse, and has been great to catch up with a few people I’ve barely seen over the winter.
I’ll leave you pictures from a few other nice rounds I watched:
|William Fox-Pitt & Chilli Morning|
|Chris Burton & HP Leilani|
|Tom Crisp & Liberal|
|Emily Llewellyn & Major Buck|
|Alex Hau Tian & ESB Irish Fiddle|
|Lucinda Fredericks & Mr Sydney Rocks|