News from Vicki
6 April 2014
Deep breath here... my apologies to people who are vaguely interested that I haven’t kept this blog up to date. Other social media sites seem to take preference. Well, Facebook does. I don’t think I am smart enough for Linked In, although I keep getting these requests to be added to peoples’ networks, and as for Twitter etc. forget it! Just proud of the fact that I can operate an Ipad now, but yet to tackle an Iphone.
But I digress. Mount White at last looks fantastic after a long, dry spell, and all horses are thriving. Kurt (Cache) is still on the injured list, but is quite happy and fat down the back paddock rugless! I am determined to give his leg at least 6 months, if not 12, as at 10 years, he is still young enough, and certainly showed amazing talent when he put his hoof up for the higher levels this time last year. So by a chain of circumstances I came to purchase the wonderful Congo Z, previously owned and campaigned by Jamie Winning, and originally from the formidable Stal Tops. I have always loved him, and even more so when I tried him. A parting of the ways in the main arena at the Summer Classic show in December was a temporary setback(!). Plus the fact that he obviously has a total aversion to George Morris. Jamie was going to bring him to George’s clinic 3 years ago, and he came down with colic so severe that it required surgery 2 days prior to the Clinic. This year, on Day 2, just when George hopped on him to ride a bit, he went dramatically, hopping lame!! After several vet inspections, Brett Jones, followed by the illustrious Jonothan Lumsden, noone could really come up with a diagnosis despite multiple x rays and scans. A week in the box, and butazolidin treatment, and we were back on track again. And he has proven to be a great back up to Casino, winning the Grand Prix at Nowra, then 4th in the same class at Maitland (won by Casino), so having lots of fun with him so far.
George Morris Clinics were again a stunning success, with George’s teaching just getting better and better. He is amazing in that he constantly seeks to improve himself in his craft despite his illustrious record, and at an age where most are content to rest on their huge reputations. He is so humble about his achievements, and so genuinely loves his horses. Once again a total inspiration, not just for me, but all my students. I was proud that my lovely grass paddock was in great order, despite being a little drier than I would have liked, but the kikuyu on sandy loam footing handled it all very well, and I now nurture the surface very carefully! This year we also ran a highly successful Coaches Clinic at Diamond B Stud, many thanks to Helen Chugg, Chris Chugg, Amanda Madigan, Sandy Hamilton and Reggie Buchanan, plus countless others who helped make it all happen.
Ben Blay, my 2IC, was back for the George Morris Clinics, then headed back to France, this time to do a 12 month stint with Edouard Couperie and Eric Negre at their lovely stables in Barbizon. I am off to France shortly also for a brief visit to catch up with all over there, and to see the World Cup Finals in Lyon. Luckily in Ben’s absence I have had great help from Will Mathew, Kate Roots and Issie Whatley, all who are helping campaign the young horses, and keep the place running smoothly and looking beautiful.
My students are also going gangbusters. Apart from Will and Kate who are doing super things at Grand Prix and Mini Prix level with Boris (Master Footloose) and Sailor (Venture Beyond) respectively, all the rest of the gang are going great. Issie and Pammy (Pamelet) are finding their feet again after their stint at Marcus Oldham, Sara Ryan has stepped up to Young Riders with Levi (King’s Style) and the Mackillop kids, Steph and Riley, are going super with Cy (Alcheringa Tradition) and winner of the Mini Prix at the recent Bega Cup Show, Marski (Royal Masquerade) and Dougie (Admiral Venture), who is a full brother to Kate’s Sailor. Chiara Amor also has come up several notches, with a win in the Individual Final at the recent Singapore CSI B show really showing how dramatically her skills have improved. Also very proud of Anika Blackwell, who came on board last year, and we purchased Glenwood Top Dollar for her, who is by Errol, as is Chiara’s mount Puma des Hayettes. Both horses are proving to be wonderful schoolmasters and trainers for their young jockeys.
Also enjoyed travelling to Myanmar in December to coach the young Philippines team at the South East Asian Games. I’ve had a long association with Philippine riders starting with Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, who is my longest ever student! She started with me when she was 16, and progressed through Young Rider ranks to World Cup level here before achieving the wonderful goal of the Philippines only Individual Gold Medal at the Asian Games in Korea in 2002, riding a thoroughbred mare we bought here in Australia, Rustic Rouge, produced by Melissa Froesch. Mikee’s riding is now limited by her three sons, and I’m proud to acknowledge, being a member of the International Olympic Committee. She is still firmly involved in Equestrian sports in her country, and cajoled me into travelling with the team again. The Asian Games and the South East Asian Games are huge deals in the region, with both being conducted like a mini Olympics, with Athletes’ Villages and the whole deal. It was my first visit to the country formerly known as Burma, and I was pleasantly surprised at what a beautiful country it is, with at that time, a wonderful climate. The Equestrian sports, although in their infancy there, were extremely well run, and my team of Andrea Belofsky, Camila Lastrilla and Diego Virata did very well despite the disadvantage of only being a 3 rider team. All of them rode great and were model students, so I look forward to spending more time with them.
Beau aka Coalminer is still going at 32 years. I thought he was starting to look a bit crook recently, but he had an eye that was ulcerous and not settling down, so finally Brett (the Vet) Jones decided that the eye should come out, as he was in a bit of pain. With the warning that he was the oldest horse that Brett had anaethitized, we did the operation in a corner of the jumping paddock, where, if the worst happened, a hole could be conveniently dug and Beau pushed in it(!). However, subsequent to the operation, Brett remained and watched carefully, as the other problem was damage to brittle bones when being sedated and then when he was getting up again. But, tough old boy that he is, he staggered up, shook himself and was a bit wobbly for about 5 minutes, then seemed fine, and hasn’t missed a beat since! Stitches in the now non eye came out yesterday, and he seems to be stacking on the weight again. Many thanks to Brett, and also to great feed sponsors Prydes Easifeeds, as the Old Timer feed keeps Beau and the other pensioner, Titian (age 26) in good shape.
No doubt about the toughness of Australian thoroughbreds. I was in Japan not so long ago, having been invited to compete at the Kakegawa CSI 3* at the beautiful Tsumagoi Resort. Super well organized and lovely show, but I must confess that the nicest jumper I rode on the weekend was a 24 year old ex Aussie thoroughbred called Grand Slam! I had other nice horses to ride, but a bit tough to step out in 1.40 and 1.50 classes on horses one only met the day before. But I got a couple of small bows, and wasn’t as badly off as the UK’s Geoff Billington, who hit the deck 3 times, but didn’t do as well as Jeroan Dubbledam and Eric van de Vleuten, who won several classes between them, including the very rich Grand Prix. But they were a bit more familiar with their horses, and had Piet Raymakers as trainer and practise fence man! It was good to catch up with all these guys again in such a nice place, plus all my Japanese friends made over the years, and now many new ones.
So wish we could have a facility like that in NSW! There is quite a mob of our riders in Europe now, and the general comment is that it is such a great place to get horses going, as there is such a wide choice of shows and venues, something we so severely lack. Until we can get some venues with reliably good footing and facilities, we are always going to be dropping further back. Don’t know what the answer is there, or an economical one, but guess we just keep plugging away..
Cheers til next time...
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