Kate, Jane, Mum and I are on the plane back to Blighty having been inundated with friends’ joyfully regalling us of the sleet and snow that we are to return to. We’ve had a great time in Spain and super results so we are feeling ready to take on the Great British Weather. Sticking to our new team motto — ‘you can’t take it with you’ — we drank our last bottle of Champagne at Gibraltar airport.
Our final competitions were a success. In the grand prix I’m delighted that MK and I scored 69.43% to come second with three out of five judges scoring me over 70%. I will go to my grave happy now that five-star judge Peter Holler has given me a good score at this level. It was by far the best grand prix we have ever done and it was great to prove that last week’s result wasn’t a one off. Pegasus really feels like he is flying now, with much more expression in his half passes and piaffe passage. I’m very proud of him, as are his new sponsors ‘Horse Online’.
In our last competition, the grand prix freestyle to music, we scored 72.3% using the same routine we did at Olympia in 2010. I’m very relieved to report that I remembered the way this time. We were second, which was absolutely fair as the winner’s programme was much harder than mine, which we designed when MK was new to grand prix.
The eventual winner was piaffing and passaging away one-handed to a Spanish song at the end of his programme. So great was his showmanship that I did wonder (jealously) at one point if he was going to use his spare hand to get a microphone out and lip synch in the style of Beyonce at the presidential inauguration. This has inspired me to create a new programme for MK with a much increased degree of difficulty and hopefully even more marks — although don’t worry, there won’t be any singing!
The Connell family’s Ulia and I won the owners’ final and she has been rather smugly modelling a rather nice baby blue rug with the Montenmedio logo on it since. After a rest she’ll go to the regionals with my stable jockey Beth Bainbridge, who has her qualified in three classes. Sarah Thomas’ Marinetty, who is also destined for the regionals, has been eyeing Ulia’s rug jealously as he received a silver ashtray (!) for his win in the prix st georges.
Our team of drivers flew in last night and are armed with sour sweets, bananas and Trivial Pursuit on the iPad to entertain them as they drive the 1,500 miles back from southern Spain to Salisbury. They invented some new games on the way here including chair running, where you lift your legs up and pedal them in the air (not the driver obviously), and they will stop over in Madrid and Bordeaux on the way home.
I’ve learnt a lot from my time here on Sunshine Tour and feel, in this, my last blog it might be of service to share my findings, which are:
- Bryl cream and wet look gel are still perfectly acceptable in Spain… even on horses
- Dogs are free to roam (and mate) during your test and a rider must not lose concentration because of this
- All the shops really do close for siesta, but the bars remain open
- It is considered perfectly sensible to pile six people, a baby and two dogs onto a moped to ride around the show ground as this will save fuel and therefore protect the environment
- And finally… riders must never eat an Octopus the night before an important competition!
See reports from the Spanish Sunshine Tour in the next two editions of Horse & Hound magazine