This month started with a very happy bang when the little star Dumbleton went and WON his CIC*at Brand Hall! I was feeling mildly nervous on arrival, as having confidently told Lady Bamford that I was sure he could pull off a really good result here, and that it was definitely worth keeping him to do so, I realised that I’d better prove myself right…! Thankfully all my persuasions were justified, and he did a super test to lie 3rd on 44, and then jumped the most awesome double clear inside the time. The show-jumping caused carnage in fact, possibly partly because there was a triple of uprights, which certainly tested out the careful ones, and Dumble was one of only two horses to finish on his Dressage score. He felt absolutely awesome cross-country, and we went like lightning as having stolen minute markers (very competitively!) from the pony riders who were also doing the 1*, I only clicked at the end that they had all obviously been given very tight minutes to start with, to get them ahead of time… and as a result I felt like I’d gone back to my Junior days with my foot flat to the floor in surprised panic for the first half, before realising that I was way ahead of time by the last section! What an absolute star Dumble is though, and I am so sad that he is now for sale. However, I am sure that he will give a junior the most amazing time.
With Zul still on holiday at the start of the month it was all up to the other two to keep the competitive enthusiasm flowing, and Woody manfully kept up his end of the deal. Having had to go home suddenly for my Grandpa’s funeral the day before I was supposed to be doing my Dressage at Nunney, I was a bit concerned that the brain might be a little fluffy… but thankfully Cara worked her usual wonders at keeping us (me and the Woodster!) in order. I always seem to do quite well in the West Country for some reason, maybe it’s the chilled atmosphere down there, or the fact that it’s a bit similar in some ways to the homeland, but Woody did a massive PB in his Dressage scoring 49 in the CIC**, which I was totally thrilled with. He felt soft and supple, and really tried which is very exciting as this has historically been his weakest phase. His show-jumping has got better and better alongside the flat work though, and he felt much more relaxed having been practising at Summerhouse, just tipping one unlucky pole before zooming round the cross-county with his usual enthusiasm to finish 11th in a very competitive section.
I’d love to say I’ve been out scoring lots of double clears, and maybe even winning a few classes on some exciting youngsters, but sadly that’s jumping the gun as my SEIS scheme is still getting assessed by the tax man. It seems to be taking forever, which is mildly frustrating as I really want to get hunting for some super steeds, but I’m having to exercise patience instead. On the entertainment front though I’ve had a couple of great nights – firstly going with my good friend Alice Pearson to the Fox Rocks (Ledbury Hunt Ball) which knowing Alice was a pretty epic choice, involving a LOT of dancing, merriment and a 6am taxi home…! It was awesome fun and a great alternative to Bramham if anyone’s not going next year?! The second had a very different vibe, and one that I’m trying to get use to as I progress into the supposedly civilised second half of the 20’s. Being much more at home in a little dress and sneakers than smart and heels, the Ascot dress code took a bit of preparation. Luckily it seems to coincide with the mid-season sale which is very handy, and I was quite proud of myself for managing to actually find dress and jacket in one relatively quick session. However, it never seems to be that simple, and I had a very nasty shock when someone told me, when I described my outfit the day before, that fascinators were banned this year. I’d been banking on wearing one that I’d bought for my last trip there a couple of years ago, and a) didn’t have time to find anything else and b)had NO idea where I would find a hat, even if I did have time! The lady concerned was adamant that I wouldn’t be allowed in without one, which didn’t really soothe my concern, and I rang a friend in panic. He very generously said he’d donate me his top hat if it came to that…. but thankfully nobody seemed remotely bothered about fascinators or hats – or even short dresses as it turned out, judging by some girls’ outfits! It was a great day out though; the racing was fantastic and made much more exciting by the fact that now I actually know some people in the industry.
The month has been rounded off by a couple of really good days at World Class training, where we were lucky enough to have the legendary Irish show-jumping coach John Ledingham casting his watchful eye over us, and giving us a good selection of exercises to be practising until next time. Zul is now back in action and we are all gearing up for Barbury this weekend, so fingers crossed the weather stays nice and everyone can have a merry day out!