Without a competition to look forward to at the weekend, I was really hoping for a nice quiet week. Apparently not! I’ve had a new (sort of) arrival to the team, ESB Irish Fiddle.

We bought him at the end of 2007; he was the last horse I bought for the Olympics. Unfortunately, due to incredibly complicated and annoying vaccination issues, he was stuck stateside for two months.

By the time he arrived in March, I had only three months to qualify him for the Olympics. It quickly became apparent that he was completely unfit and very weak, and to make matters worse he picked up a nasty virus and was rather poorly for a few weeks.

Despite all of this he was a very good boy and Alex Hua Tian riding ESB Irish Fiddle at Chatsworth 2008got his half qualification at Chatsworth CIC*** (pictured right), but we had pushed him too far too early and he decided he had had enough!

The plan was to turn him out for six months to cool off so we could start again. However, school got in the way, and six months turned into a year.

While I’ve been busy with the other three horses, Jane Bailey at Springbottom Farm over the hill from Stonehenge (where Monkey and Limbo, my two retired old boys are) has very kindly started his fitness work.

Anyway, my plans with him are to take my time and really work on his flat work over the winter with Jane Bredin, then aim at a spring three-star (Saumur maybe).

Broken splint bone

In other news, Chico has been scanned and x-rayed since Highclere and unfortunately he has broken his splint bone. Luckily, it sounds much worse than it actually is. He needs to have three weeks rest before starting again on the walker. So, no Boekelo for us then, which is very disappointing indeed.

Since he fell on his knees in the water at Aston-le-Walls, he really hasn’t been jumping properly. I withdrew him before cross-country at Hartpury, and although he only had the one down at Highclere and jumped well enough, everyone who knows him realises that he is a truly special jumper so that wasn’t right either.

So, in a funny way, it’s nice to know that I wasn’t going crazy and that something was wrong. Hopefully, once he’s had his time off, we can start again to get him back up to a 110% for WEG!

Looking ahead to Blenheim

Maggie and Jeans are on top form and have had their last gallop and a very good last jump lesson with Cinda. I’ve been so busy the last couple of days packing that I’m actually writing this in the lorry on our way up to Blenheim! So, with a bit of luck, we’ll have some more news for you next week!

Finally, I’d like to congratulate Coral Keen’s father, Steve who married Anne last week (my horses are on their yard) and also Daniella Toomey and Darren (also from the yard) for getting engaged this week! So congratulations all!

Alex Hua Tian

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