Toledo De Kerser on song. With thanks to our sponsor https://williamcareyphotography.com
A truly stunning location as eventing returned to Cornbury Park for the first time in 20 odd years. The Park is steeped in history having been a Royal hunting ground for deer in the famous forest in the 14th century and even has a mention in the Domesday book. The current deer in residence thought it highly amusing to track some of the horses crossing through their domain en route to the dressage which some horses coped with better than others!
No worries about social distancing here with the dressage a good 10 minutes hack up to the flatter ground by the house, masses of room in the truck park and a cross country track that was strung, watered, seeded and used the rolling hills of the Park to full advantage. The fences were decorated with the usual David Evans artistry of dragonflies and giant chairs, flowers adorned everything and there were three waters and lots of skinnies in both brush and wood form. No expense had been spared and in these uncertain times it was so refreshing to see such a huge investment in our sport.
Tom had 9 rides over the weekend so was well aquatinted with the layout by Sunday afternoon. Huge balloting meant that no one was allowed more than one horse in the 2Short and the 3Short so it was just MHS Brown Jack in the 2S and Brookfield Benjamin Bounce in the 3S. Bounce led the dressage at the end of Friday in the 3S but by Sunday morning had slipped a little down the order when the second half of the field had gone and then rolled a pole. Tom added 4 time cross country to finish in 12th in a huge section with the qualification firmly in place and another step up the ladder for Bounce. Jack scored a 24.8 on the flat and added nothing to it for 3rd spot in his equally big section and he really is shaping up to be one to watch as he progresses through the grades.
Friday was OI/Intermediate day and Tom was reunited with one of his favourite catch rides ever, Sammi Birch’s Hunter Valley (Gizmo). Tom rode Giz for Sammi when she was pregnant with her son Charlie and he is very much Tom’s type of horse, full TB and a naughty brat! Giz was equally pleased to see Tom and did a lovely test for a PB on the flat of 21.4 whilst Sammi watched on. That is such a Giz sort of thing to do. An assured double clear with 8 time left them in 8th spot and Tom enquiring where else he might be able to ride him! Sammi has fractured her scapula but declared watching Giz with Tom and her others with Tim Rogers and Lucy Jackson had been “the most exhausting and stressful day and she was definitely going to be back in the saddle ASAP”!
Dream Big (Dreamy) and Tom are well acquainted and they had a very nice day with a 32, a pole and a super sprint around the cross country as one of the first few to go for 4 time. The treble in the showjumping with a short distance to the final element and the first fence were the bogey fences that fell repeatedly throughout the day. The cross country was just the sort of undulating and testing track that Dreamy relishes and they looked on song as they put some of the first hoof prints down on the straight ways through the combinations.
Bob Chaplin is establishing his partnership with Tom and a 27.3, the ubiquitous 4 faults in the showjumping and a very confident cross country for 4 time left them in 12th place. Figaro van het Broekxhof is very experienced and after a 30 dressage Tom rode a masterclass in the showjumping for a clear before flying round the Park for just 2 time and 6th spot. It’s hard to tell whether Fig loves the cross country or not as his expression never changes from the business like one he normally wears but he certainly made the task in hand look very easy!
Toledo De Kerser was out for his second run of the year and with a 20.2 dressage and, of course, a clear showjumping under his belt Tom let the handbrake off for the first time since Pau last year and they were quite the sight to behold as they effortlessly picked off each of the fences in turn with Toledo relishing the challenge. Pau beckons again for the duo and you would be hard pushed to bet against them on this form.
Saturday saw the turn of the novices and it was a seriously educational track for them. Spring Morning (Charlie) upheld the yard honour with a 28 and a clear round and just 1.2 time for 7th whilst stablemate Brookfield Braveheart (Luke) tackled his second novice start with gusto with a 30 dressage, a rail and his first clear cross country after picking up some jumping faults at Wellington a couple of weeks ago. Making mistakes and learning from them is all part of the long route to the top but as a second novice this was a tough enough track to take on. Looks like Luke has what it takes!
A great weekend and welcome sunshine and warmth on Sunday as well. Thank you to the whole team at Cornbury for putting on such a show and we cant wait to return in 2021.