We headed off to Bicton last Saturday with Kitkat (Another Breakfast) in the open intermediate and Leo (Soltair Justice) in our first intermediate together. A big thank you to Helen West, the new arena manager, and her team who had put a lot of work into the going on the cross-country to ensure we had good conditions.
Kitkat did a much more settled dressage test than last time out, with just a few moments of tension in the walk, to score 30 then jumped another great clear in the showjumping. Sadly, we are still having issues with the bitting on the cross-country. We decided we should try putting him back in a snaffle with a tongue control piece (to stop him putting his tongue over the bit), but this did not turn out to be such a good idea. Once we had gone down the hill after fence 5, I knew I had very little control and no steering. I decided to pull him up a few fences later, as I didn’t want to be fighting him the whole way round. Very frustrating, but I am positive we will find the right bit in due course. To be trying out bits at competitions is not ideal, but it’s only in a competitive environment that I get a true feel for whether a particular bit is working for us or not.
Leo did a pleasing test for 35.5 with lots of areas for improvement. Jockey error in the showjumping resulted in us having 2 down, which I was kicking myself for as he is such a careful jumper. He then popped round the cross-country without fuss and felt really confident. It was a decent intermediate track with some good questions. I wouldn’t have said it was an ideal first intermediate to have chosen, but he found it very easy which is exciting for the future.
On Wednesday, I headed down to Newton Abbot’s National Hunt evening meeting to watch Bold Chief run for Harry Fry Racing in the Novices’ Chase with Noel Fehily on board (pictured right). He jumped superbly and was never headed, running away an easy winner towards the end when his main danger fell at the second last. The team hasn’t had a runner for about 50 days so a winner was just what was needed to get the ball rolling again. It won’tt be long now until the National Hunt season kicks off again in earnest. I can’t wait!
Staying with the racing theme but returning to Bicton, I am taking part in a charity event at Bicton Arena today (Friday) in aid of the Injured Jockey’s Fund’s Oaksey House. Teams of eventers will be going head-to-head with teams of jockeys and showjumpers over a jumping course in the main arena featuring a ‘skinny’ and a steeplechase fence. I’m sure it will be really exciting and entertaining, plus it’s all for a very worthwhile cause.
Although my weekend at Bicton was not as successful as I would have hoped, that was put firmly in perspective on Sunday afternoon when I heard about the terrible tragedy at Somerford Park. Tom Gadsby, a young New Zealand rider, suffered a fatal fall on the cross-country. Eventing is a very close community and the news of Tom’s death has shocked and devastated everyone involved in it. My thoughts and prayers go out to Tom’s family and close friends at this sad time.