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News from Vicki

11 October 2010

Sorry to be a bit tardy getting this done, but it has been rivetting watching WEG unfold.  What a difference to 4 years ago, when most of my information came from texting the guys over there.  Now most up to date information came from Facebook, and when we made the second round of the Nations Cup, I thought I'd give the FEI TV a go.  Being on an ADSL line up here in the wilds of Mount White I thought the downloading would be slow, so hadn't tried it as yet, but it was great!  Plus excellent, incisive commentary from Steve Hadley meant I reckon I had the best seat in the house.  Our team effort was great, 7th place now in the last two major ch'ships (Olympics and WEG) means we are now fairly serious players, plus the all important qualification for the team in London.  Outstanding work from Edwina, Chugg, JPR and Mattie, and of course all the back up crew led by our inspired Chef Stephen Lamb (Chops), who, among other things, moved heaven and earth to get JPR's horse Niack de L'Abbaye there, when a blood test glitch was going to see him not allowed in the US!  And great work by Edwina and Chugg to make Top 30 class, where Itot jumped a 4 and 0 to see Edwina in eventual 13th place, and Vivant a 4 and a tiring 8 to finish 21st.  Looks like Vivant will stay in Europe, unfortunately our lack of decent prizemoney levels preclude a return to Australia, but the lucrative money OS, plus what can be earned now from his service fees should see it being viable to keep him for London, now that the Team spot is assured.  Great for Chugg at this stage of his life to finally realize his dreams and represent us so well at the highest level on such a wonderful horse.  Special mention to the 'women behind the man' wife Helen and mother Bev Edwards, who came in and bought Viv for Chris when it looked like he maybe lost.  Good investment now, I'd say!  So many high spots, and great that all members of the team had contributing scores, with Matt's clear second round against all odds on Urleven van de Helle putting us within a hair of a Medal.  But finishing in front of both the Yanks and the Brits was a pretty awesome achievement.

Then the drama of the Final 4.  Despite the criticism of it's formatt, it is always an absorbing class, and this year was fantastic.  Always a wild card there, and this time it was Abdullah Al Sharbatly, from Saudi Arabia, who had gotten to the final 4 on a top class mare, Seldana di Campalto, that he had purchased just 6 weeks previously.  This mare was European Team Silver Medallist with her previous rider, Italian Natale Chiaudani, and Abdullah, under the guidance of Belgian Stanny van Paeschaen, had only done 2 shows on her prior to WEG.  The other 3 being former World Champion Rodrigo Pessoa, Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze, and Belgian super nice guy Philippe Le Jeune.  I have spent quite sometime in Belgium while based at Francois Mathy's yard, and got to see a lot of Philippe at National and International shows.  He is like so many of the Belgian guys, so very nice, funny and unassuming, despite being awesomely talented, and has probably lacked a lot of opportunity due to not being mega rich, and having to do what the Belgians are very good at, deal in horses.  So I was so hoping for Philippe to be the best, and he did this emphatically, with 4 perfectly ridden clear rounds on his own, and other riders' horses.  Conrad Homfelds' tracks were absolutely brilliant, with his Final 4 track being perfect.  There had been criticism of Aachen 4 years ago being too easy, resulting in too many clear rounds, and the subsequent jump off to find the Medallists, but in this case the size and technical nature found the true riding skills, but had the horses still looking happy and comfortable, with Philippe's Gold Medal round on Hickstead being foot perfect.  From the first of the only 2 practice fences allowed each rider Hickstead was still jumping a foot above everything, but from sheer athleticism and good piloting, not from fear. A great result...

Here the rain has been coming down, so thankfully lots of green grass for spring, but playing havoc with getting horses out to competitions.  New guys coming along nicely, although Kurt is just back in work after his injury, so will probably not show til November.  Kenny and Casino making good progress, especially Casino, who is such a modern, elegant type of stallion, and is proving to be an athletic jumper.  Kids went great at Youth Titles, although ground there seriously bad (rock hard) which is a shame, as in every other respect the facility ticks all the boxes.  Steph and super pony Alcheringa Tradition were 2nd overall in FEI Cat A Class, and James and Dreamtime Invader won a class, and 2nd in Grand Prix.  Sara had good placings on both Chucky and Shrek, and Nicky clear rounds on Monty.  Benny also good placings on Ryles and Brad.  Cassie and Puma excelled themselves with Junior placings, pretty awesome for their first real show together, so all in all a good weekend performance wise.

Steph and Alcheringa Tradition

Steph and her pocket rocket Alcheringa Tradition were stars at the Youth Jumping Festival.  Here they are competing at The Jump in the Park show.  Thanks Rachel Smith of Furdography for the pic.

Also had a nice time doing the Jump in the Park show.  Bit of an awkward place to get into, and a bit of a trek for one class, but the footing is great. The  David Lawrence designed track was not too tough at around 1.20, but a great crowd pleasing class this time for the stacks of people who were there.  So the atmosphere was also great, and Jenny Sheppard absolutely blitzed it on her super Licara, with a storming gallop to the last vertical.  James on Todd (Dreamtime Invader) was, as always, a little star (Todd that is...) to be 2nd, and I was a bit conservative on my two, Janey and Willy to be 3rd and 4th.  James was the Leading Young Rider, Shannon O'Meara, not long back in the saddle after having broken his leg badly was Leading Amateur, and Sara McMillan was Leading Junior.  A really nice day of jumping organized by NSWEA and Northside Riding Club that is hopefully going to develop into a full day's jumping next year.

Hope to get to Sydney Jump Club this weekend, then Tamworth, the State Titles, Nationals and a few World Cup shows...

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