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News from Vicki

30 September 2013

I sit here with a light covering of dust for 2 reasons... one is that it is so dry here now, and my paddocks are starting to look a bit sad.  No rain in August and very little in September.  Other reason is the odd morning when I help with the feed run, I love to give my 32 year old mate Coalminer (aka Beau) a thorough curry combing.  This was a task undertaken last year, totally unasked, by that lovely sympathetic horseman, Robert Moffatt, who trained with me last year while Ben was in France.  He would amble out in the afternoon when Beau was due to be rugged and give him a good curry comb, as otherwise he is inclined to be itchy. Now the property is in new hands, but they have kindly allowed the 2 pensioners, Beau and Titian, to remain there, but we yard them each morning to have their feeds, as they now have paddock companions.  So before they are let out again, I give Beau a good scratch, and we reminisce about old times!!

But back to the present, and it has been a typically busy run of shows.  Casino has continued to be the mainstay of the team, with wins at the Jump in the Hawkesbury show, now a much looked forward to event on the calander.  Jenny Sheppard and her team of volunteers create a super show at Hawkesbury Showground with 3 rings going solidly for 2 1/2 days.  By badgering, begging and cajoling people to volunteer and sponsor, this show creates enough cash to help fund the Summer Classic at the end of the year.  Krissy Harris then ran a lower key, but very pleasant show on her and Heath’s lovely property nearly next door to me (we rode over the first day!), and Casino won himself another rug, so 2 in 2 weeks. 

Then the second of the lovely Showcase shows run by Kerry and John Winning, and the seemingly tireless Sue Hartog.  Clever daughter Jamie Winning also managed to achieve what I consider to be essential for the VIPs’ at this sort of show, a raised area for their entertainment/eating area.  Always in Europe the VIP areas, even when the show is in the middle of a paddock, are on an elevated platform, and Jamie finally devised how it was done, palletts! She hired 3,000 of them for the weekend, and the effect was super.  As Jamie said, “If it was good enough for Valkenswaard to do that, it was fine for us!” Tracks were well designed all weekend by Brad Longhurst and David Sheppard, who had also done super work at the Jump in the Hawkesbury Show, and the footing at both venues was exemplary.  Sharon Slater and Ulixes had been the victors at Hawkesbury, but it was Tom McD’s turn at Showcase with a super exciting second round where Tom pulled out all stops to jump the fastest clear round on Limerick.  I think he had been a little miffed when defeated by Jess Brown on Equus Echo in the Silver Final.  Tom was last to go on Romantic Dream in that class, but didn’t quite catch Jess’ deceptively smooth round.  Jess had a great show, being 3rd in the Gold Final on her grey import Casco, with Merrick and his Caboolture and now Melbourne Royal World Cup winner, Aladino second.  We had a pretty ordinary show with me making dumb mistakes on Casino.  Puma des Hayettes jumped his little socks off, and was 2nd in the Last Chance Qualifier for the Bronze, which qualified us for the Final.  His owner Chiara was meant to ride him in Juniors, but an exuberant moment from Puma earlier that month meant that Chiara was on the floor, and on the sidelines!  I think Puma was sorry for that flight of fancy when he saw the Bronze Final track was around 1.35... bit scarey for a guy who has only jumped Juniors for ever.  But he bravely threw his paws in the air, and just had 2 green rails.  Lee and Puzzle, and Steph and Cy were our other stars with good bows in Amateurs and Juniors respectively.

So I was battling to justify the long trek to Werribee for the Aus Titles, as the rain started to tumble down as we crossed the border into Victoria.  But what a lovely show!!  Even better than last year, and that had been a super show.  This year EA had brought out 2014 WEG Course Designer, Frenchman Frederic Cottier to design the tracks, and they were wonderful, and Frederic was so interesting and open and keen to share his knowledge.  Casino bounced back to his good form, winning the 1.35 on the first day (should have won the 1.25 also, but for a blonde moment from the jockey...), the Speed Ch’ship the second day (another rug for his burgeoning collection...) and 3rd in the Mini Prix on day 3.  Others on the truck, Kinnordy Gyllian and Noblewood Park Cassinata, also got bows, as did Wil on Master Footloose, who had been a bit off colour for a couple of shows.  Classes on the final day were great, with spectators becoming accustomed to the format of the three classes counting towards the Final.  Even so, there was a jump off for the Senior Champion with Jamie Kermond on the Des Russell owned Caracas holding off Clem Smith on another promising younger one, the Leanne Bruggeman bred Guru.  And while Tom McD relinquished his Senior Title, he was able to hold onto his Young Rider title on the Langbecker family’s Cumo Z, in a close finish from Kiwi (but practically Aussie...) Bridget Hansen on Shakespeare NZPH.  Jessica Tripp earned her first Junior Title aboard Lovgrove over a pretty massive final track which saw some fences at 1.40.

Some of the team

Some of the important people involved in running the Australian Champs
(so not sure how I got in the photo...) On the far left, Ringmaster Gavin Chester, and on my left, the charming Frenchman, Course Designer Frederic Cottier, Kazu from Japan, who was the Assessing Delegate from the F.E.I., John Vallance, now EA Jumping Chairman,  Show Director Annie White and Chief Judge, Anne Garner

Casino and Vicki enjoying the moment

Casino and I enjoying the moment, victory in the Australian Speed Championship, from Anthony Thomas 2nd on Levitation,
Jamie Kermond 3rd on Lamaze.

Champagne!

Me enjoying champagne on “The Throne”, thanks for the champers from Cherie Barton, who had brought it from the VIP stand!

Brooke Campbell and Copabella Visage

Best seat in the house to watch Brooke Campbell and Copabella Visage in the Australian Speed Championship.  I was lucky enough to occupy the Throne for the whole class, as Casino’s speedy round from first draw was not run down.  Thus the need for reviving champagne, stressful stuff watching people trying to knock one off one’s throne!

But my best fun came as Chef d’Equip to the Australian Senior team for what was the Trans Tasman challenge, but is now the Oceania Challenge.  My team of  Tom McDermott and Romantic Dream, Shane Davidson and Fairbanks Lou Lou, Sharon Slater and Ulixes and Jamie Kermond and Cothalga easily overcame the Kiwi challengers, Ross Smith, Lisa Coupe, Luke Dee and Sam McIntosh.  We had more problems beating the Queenslanders, as there was an Interstate Teams class also incorporated, and Kermo had to jump a crucial final clear round to beat the final Ql’d team member, Merrick Ubank and Aladino, who were also clear.  Great sport, with all the team riding super.  Especially heartening was Shane Davidson’s ability to come back from a disappointing first round with a number of rails to a super clear round in the second.  The Young Rider team, managed by Jess Barton, also underscored the dominance with a great win. Then I had the pleasure of the same job at Melbourne Royal, with Tom and Kermo again, but Kermo on his Title winner, Caracas, with Jamie Winning on her new ride Wirragulla Nicklaus, and Merrick on Aladino replacing Shane and Sharon, who weren’t competing at Melbourne.  The Kiwi team had been depleted with the injury to Lisa’s horse Amaretto putting him out of action, so Birdy (Bridget Hansen) stepped up to the Senior Team.  Nonetheless my guys again put on a superlative display to win the class, held within the a very testing Prince of Wales Cup class, with a score of 24 faults to the Kiwis’ 53 faults!  No clear rounds, Ally Lamb won the class on her very cute Penrose with 4 faults from super Kiwi, Sam McIntosh on her wild little mare, Estina on 5 faults.  So the Australian Team result was a little better here than at Barcelona for the Nations Cup Final, where our team of Edwina Tops Alexander, Julia Hargreaves and James Passey, burdened by only being a 3 member team, finished last in both the Qualifier and the Consolation class.  Rats!  But here’s hoping for good things from Edwina’s new ride, Aachen Grand Prix runner up Paloubet d’Haloung, previously ridden by Annika Spruenger.  Looks a lot nicer to ride than current top horse Ego van Orti, and at 17 the wonderful Itot du Chateau is winding down his illustrious career.

State titles in October, and a trip to Perth to check out Robynne Mctaggerts’ new stallions and do some teaching and riding there.  And getting the place looking beautiful (please rain!) for the extended George Morris Clinics in January, with Brisbane being added to NZ, Melbourne and Sydney.  Also this year the reintroduction of the very popular Coaches Clinic where George will demonstrate and coach levels of riders from Beginners to Advanced.  Watch this space....

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