So with freshly dry cleaned jackets we headed into the Royal on Wednesday afternoon, ready to start on Thursday. I had had 5 accepted to jump, but was pleased to only have 4 due to Ricci's sale, as 5 horses at a Royal is monumentally hard work. This year was absolutely wonderful in many ways. All the horse events had been separated, so all that was happening in our week was jumpers, campdrafters and tent pegging. Bliss! We had generally lots of arena room, and no distractions, so Graeme Watts could use his extensive course designing skills to the best of his ability, which he consistently did through all sections over the week. Many thanks Graeme.. Also out in the warm up, we again had plenty of room, so this crucial part of a jumper's preparation became a lot easier. Again, thanks to Simon Barry and Brett Davey for efficiently stewarding, and making sure that the surface out there was in good shape. But the biggest thanks must go to Horse Committee Chairman, Graham Davey and his committee, who had the courage to put the horse events on in the face of the EI problems, and evolved this new format, which hopefully will become a permanent one. Even in the pavilions, it was a lot more of a quiet, relaxed atmosphere, so even my spoilt bunch of pussies, who are used to the luxury of their lush, peaceful paddocks were able to settle and perform well.
Also my 2 stalwarts, Nakita Barber and Christine Wenham kept the ponies very happy and all things running smoothly, while Alyce Garroway held the fort here at home, as I buzzed back and forth between home and the show. Thanks girls! So the show went well, with a slow start in the first couple of days getting better, with all horses jumping better and better as show went on. JANE was the superstar with 2 wins in Section 2 seeing her as the Champion Section 2 horse in quite a strong field, but she was most consistent, and tried her heart out, as always. Our win in the final Mini Prix was my last ride, as she now goes to Young Rider Greer Butcher, and I look forward to helping Greer get to her first World Cup later in the year, just as we got Danni successfully through her first World Cup at Dapto last year with the lovely mare, LANDSONG. Other Section 2 horses to shine were Julia Hargreaves expensive imported Grand Prix horse, COPABELLA HAYMEN, Collen Brook on Peter Carcary's thoroughbred (one of the few remaining) POET'S CORNER, and Emmy Blinkworth's 2, ROMANTIC DREAM and ROLEX, also imports. Jamie Grant did a great job to be consistently placed on the sometimes difficult THE PLAYER. IRISH and BLA were great and consistently in the ribbons, with the Section 1 fields being small, but good quality.
The 3rd start was an M.E.S. (Minimum Eligibility Standard) event, which our riders need to qualify to start at the Olympics. This track was designed by Frank Rothenberger, and Kiwi Alan Hampton was the Assessing Delegate. It was a tough enough 1.45 to 1.55 track, but the ideal conditions meant that all 9 horses that started were able to gain the necessary 8 faults and under score that allowed them to gain their M.E.S. Adam Mellers and ANIMATE and BLA were the only clears, with ANIMATE jumping super to win the class, and later in the week, the World Cup class. This was a great relief for the riders looking for Olympic Selection, as the plan to have an M.E.S. class at the Nat Ch'ships in October 2007 went out the window with EI. Of the riders in Europe, only Edwina Alexander and her new mount ITOT DU CHATEAU and Laurie Lever on DROSSEL DAN are stil seeking their MES'S, but there is plenty of opportunity for those guys, as there is still around 15 to 20 shows that have MES opportunities. Of the other Section 1's, Chuggy on Michelle Barrera's ALONDRA jumped super, with this mare always showing plenty of scope, but not always so careful, but over these bigger tracks, she looked good. Peter McMahon and GENOA settled into a good groove, with a bit change early in the show, and MR INNOCENT was, as always, a little superstar at this level, but the next step up is a bit tough on him.
Section 3 is always an exciting division, with all the young superstars, although there was a very wide range of experience this year. I was pleased that Robynne McTaggert, BLA and CASSIE's part owner (with partner Tony Trevisan) came over to see them jump, as CASSIE especially jumped her little heart out, and was much improved by the experience. I didn't expect her to be accpted, as she is still a very green 7 year old, having already spent a fair bit of her life as a broodmare, but she got better and better with each start, culminating in a double clear and 3rd place in the final Section 3, all with her little ears pricked and her paws around her chin...Other imports to go well were Jamie Winning's YANDOO VANGELO, Adam Mellers' TARA NI QUIDAM and Lachlan Manuel on Ulli Klatte's HECTOR. Of the locals Cathy Green's DAVINCIS PRIDE and Billy Raymont's STARDOM looked pretty speccy.
Young Riders saw Jamie Winning dominating, but Coco Miles pulled out a great win over the toughest track in the last class on TEQUILA, while Jess Stalling overcame a tentative start in the other classes to be 3rd in this class on DUSTIN BONES. Monique Barrett was Leading Junior Girl on the cute as a button pony SNOWY RIVER GINGER MEGGS, while Jack Maunder was Leading Boy on CLONCURRY.
So now onto Copabella, JK Williams and SIEC...