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News from Vicki

12 October 2011

It was most interesting to visit Melbourne this year.  I haven't been to Melbourne Royal for some years since they changed all the infrastructure, and wasn't sure what to expect.  Huge changes!  The once vast arena is now quite a small one, so probably better in that it is more intimate for spectators, although the seating was all uncovered.  Bit dodgy considering Melbourne's general weather record, but this year it was amazingly wonderful!  While those at home here (and I believe Gundagai...) suffered miserable weather, Melbourne laid out it's spectacular best for 3 of the 4 days that we were there.  Mind you, it was probably fortunate that there had been heavy rain prior to our arrival, as otherwise I suspect the jumping surface in both the arena and the warm up wouldn't have been as good.  Main arena was a good grass surface, and the warm up was sand and rubber, which while very wet provided great footing, but could be a tad heavy when dry.  Great also is that everything is close and accessible.  Stables and arenas are all in the same proximity, with a bit of a bracing walk to the truck camping, but not too bad.

David Sheppard designed great tracks the whole show, and on the first day we had the whole arena, which was super.  On the other days, except for the World Cup, we had half the arena, the other half being occupied by pony classes (!), which was okay.  Shep did a good job to make his tracks flowing despite being a little cramped.  Brett Hickey has come onto the Committee down there, and has done a great job to make the jumping better, and it's definitely a show I will support.  As I suspected prior to our arrival, my boys were a bit short of a run, but came good as the show went on, with Willy Welsom winning a Part 2, which was a big shock to me, as it was a tough, competitive jump off, and I was just pleased we got there.  He also should have won the Mini Prix, except for a blonde moment from his elderly jockey that saw us get lost, so no fences down, but crossing our tracks made us 5th dammit!  Clem Smith won that class on Florina, his second win on her, and with a win in a Part 1 on Dark Ages, saw Clem have a good show. Casino was a bit shocked at Part 2 being strong enough 1.40 classes, but still jumped super for just a rail in each class, but I keep forgetting that he is only 7, so I think back to Part 3 for Sydney.   Kenny was not too bad with a couple of placings, including 9th in the World Cup, with another one frustrating rail in the first round over a very strong track.  No doubting Jamie Kermond's class with a cruisy win on Des Russell's super stallion Valhalla.  Great to see the good guys doing well, with Jamie and Des being super nice people as well as a great rider and great owner/horseman.  Jamie also emphasized his ability with 4th placing on Colthaga.

David Dobson on  Oaks Xena was top Part 2 horse, and the Errol sired Premier Dollars and Brook Dobbin was top Part 3 horse.  I think Nick Taliana, and the thoroughbred Ambrose was top Part 1 horse.  Great to see another nice bloke with a horse he has produced himself, and ably assisted and trained by Jenny Sheppard.  Good work guys.  Brook Dobbin and Advisor won the other major class, the Prince of Wales Cup.  Juniors were dominated by Queenslander Emma Kearney on her delightful Double the Bank, who won at least two of the classes.  Steph McKillop and Cy were the models of consistency, placing in every class, and looking a real established combination despite their tender years.  Issie and Molly suffered from Molly only just getting there due to a foot abcess that prevented work for the last week, and missing the first class, as we still had the shoe off and poulticing!  Adam Prime kindly came to the rescue, and Issie and Molly were back in action, albeit a little bit wild!

Melbourne Stabling

AJ Jones and Issie hard at it at Melbourne Royal.  Our stables were
backed by a nice garden, and we were pleased to be there while the
weather was good, as we had our own secluded area.

Steph and Cy

Steph and Cy looking great and jumping super at Melbourne Royal.

So back home on Wednesday, and no rest for the wicked, as I dragged Kenny and Casino to the National Squad Clinic Friday and Saturday.  Friday at Sydney Jump Club was good, but damp, and overnight rain meant that it was out of the question to use the grass there.  Fortunately Jamie Winning offered the use of their fantastic 80 by 50 metre sand/Soiltex arena, and it was just outstanding to ride on such a beautiful area.  Many, many thanks to Jamie and her super supportive parents John and Kerry for making the arena and facilities available at such short notice.  Our sport at this time would be much the poorer without their help, both financially and in the amount of volunteer work that Kerry tirelessly puts in assisting shows.  Rod Brown was the coach, and the Clinic emphasized to me again that he is our most outstanding jumping coach.  It's a while since I've had the opportunity to work with him, but his enthusiasm, passion and ability are super qualities.  As well he is still a wonderful rider, gaining a marked improvement with both Kenny, and Jamie's Zenzel.

Looking forward to Dubbo Nat Ch'ships now...

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