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Thursday, August 28, 2014

7th place in the CSI2* Grand Prix

So much has been happening that I have not had time to write any blogs! The news from youngest daughter Skye has been good. Skye and a 'new' ride a 7 year old mare - were equal first in her age group class at Auvers CSI2* last week and were then placed second in the 7 year old 1.35m speed class the following day. This was their first show together.

Then Skye and the 9 year old Aresse M achieved a double clear in the 1.45m CSI2* Grand Prix to finish 7th and best Brit. His best result at an International show to date.

Skye is back at Auvers CSI2* this week and this afternoon she and Full Monty finished 4th in the 1.45m Grand Prix which is Monty's best result at an International show! Jemma Kirk and the very experienced 'teenager' Wexford finished 2nd, so they were in good company.

Congratulations to Lee Pearson for his gold medal in the Para Dressage at WEG. and also to Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. Can they do it again tomorrow?

Time is running out

Monday, August 11, 2014

So smart

The fences are huge

Many of you will be travelling up and down the country in order to try and qualify for the various end of season finals that you have all been working towards all year. 

Congratulations to show jumper Toni Potts (Fowles) who did just that and qualified for HOYS on Saturday riding Terry's Clover. Toni last qualified for the Newcomers final a few years ago riding The Kaiser and I went in the horsebox with her on a grooms ticket for the day.  We had a brilliant time and hopefully I will be there again to cheer her on for a second time! 

In France, Skye has been busy qualifying for their young horse championships with five year old Catapult and two six year olds, Upsala and Ugo. Catapult, for the second week running is the leading five year old qualifier in France and we have just heard that Upsala has now qualified for his final and if Ugo gains another double clear later this week he will also have qualified. Both the six year olds were late starters, but now the penny has dropped and the improvement they have made has been brilliant. 

Full Monty and Skye finished second in a 1.45 m Speed class at the St. Lo Grande National Show on Saturday and won a rug and very good prize money!  FM is so careful and the confidence he now has at this level has enabled him to go faster! Now is the time to go higher, so both he and Aresse jumped in the 1.55 m Grand Prix yesterday and all concerned were delighted with their performances. Well done to all 5 of Skye's 'boys'. 

The Pony Club Championships take place at Cholmondeley this week end and PC members from all over the UK will be busy getting ready and having some last minute lessons.  Good luck to them all. 

Congratulations to Thomas Tulloch who was part of the silver winning GB team in the recent FEI Pony European Championships at Millstreet Ireland. Thomas started off his career on our little wonder pony Blackmail. His last rider - before Blackie retired was Molly (show jumping daughter) of Toni Potts (see above). Molly is now 11 years old and already looking like a star of the future. 

The Trot Up

Monday, August 04, 2014

Skye and Monty

We were delighted to receive this photo of Skye and Full Monty taken at the 'trot up' on Thursday 25th July prior to their participation CSI2* at Chantilly.

The Veterinary inspection at all International events is taken seriously and it can be a worrying time if you think your horse may fail. 

In eventing the trot up that takes place after cross country day is an opportunity for the riders to dress up and many look very smart indeed with a few finding that their chosen attire is totally unsuitable for running beside a rather exuberant and extremely fit event horse! 

Not a good day at the office for team GB in last Fridays Nations Cup at the Royal International Horse Show. The ups and downs of this sport mean that we need to put in a very good performance at Dublin this Friday in order to remain in Division 1 of this competition.

The Royal International at Hickstead

Friday, August 01, 2014

Catapult with Skye at one of his very first shows in May

A Nations Cup competition takes place this afternoon at Hickstead and can be viewed on the TV. It is vital the GB team are on the podium as we need high placings here and in Dublin next week in order to gain enough points to stay in Division 1 of this competition. It has been a tough year for the GB Team Manager Rob Hoekstra as 10 of the 14 horses that were regular members of previous Nations Cup teams have either been sold, or are currently injured e.g. Big Star. 

The good news is, that new combinations are getting a chance and it is very much a case of building for the future. 

News from France and Ugo an Upsala the two six year olds Skye is producing were both equal 1st on Tuesday.

Catapult the five year old stallion - also produced from scratch by Skye is currently the top five year old in France. He did not compete this week but the League table on the right shows he has moved up from 6th to 1st whilst staying in his stable! Skye is aiming him for the Regional finals, and hopefully he will then qualify for the 5 year old final of France. His current position shows that at this stage in the season he is top qualifier for the above. His owner is over the moon and keeps Skye up to date with the overall placings on a weekly basis.  

Home again

Monday, July 28, 2014

The different levels of the hospitality marquee enabled everyone to have a view of the arena even if they were sitting at the back

Lasting memories

We rounded off a wonderful trip to Chantilly by having a stress free journey home on Eurostar. Sadly our train times meant that we missed Skye competing in the 1.45 m CSI2* Grand Prix. She finished with four faults which prevented her from being one of the 9 clear rounds in the jump off, but such was the technicality of the course that she still ended up 'in the money' with 13th place. 

Skye's boss also had four faults in her 1.50 m CSI5* Grand Prix, so one of those days! 

Show jumping in Chantilly attracted many names familiar to those who do not necessarily follow this sport. Here goes for some serious name dropping!

For the Internet geeks, multi billionaire, Bill Gates was at the show to watch his daughter Jennifer riding in the 1* section. 

In the 5* section there was Athina Onassis de Miranda - only grand child and sole heiress of the late Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis who was the second husband of Jackie Kennedy widow of JFK -  President of the USA. Athina achieved her best ever result when she was 5th and best lady rider in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix on Saturday. She rides for Greece and her husband Dodo de Miranda rides for Brazil. Jessica Springsteen was competing at 5* level for the USA and is the daughter of singer songwriter Bruce who has rocked the world with 'Born in the USA'  for nearly four decades.

Competing in the 1* was Charlotte Casiraghi daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco. 

Also, Electra Niarchos - granddaughter of Stavros Niarchos the late Greek shipping tycoon and multi billionaire. In the 1* YH section was Alexandre de Rothchild who is the heir apparent of the worlds biggest family owned bank. 

We also saw riders from Qatar including those from the ruling family. Qatar is the richest country per capita in the world and they have decided that show jumping is a sport they want to excel at!

All the above have been able to invest in some serious horse power and are all competitive at their respective levels!

Exciting times for show jumping and I am sure that there were others competing who should also have a mention but I did not recognise their names! 

The Chateau de Chantilly

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A wing of the Chateau

These were huge

One of the canals in the gardens

The main arena was packed for the LGCT Grand Prix

As Full Monty had already qualified for tomorrows 1.45m CSI 2* Grand Prix he was rested and so Skye rode Aresse M in a 1.40 m CSI2* qualifying class today. Only 8 clear rounds in total, over a technical course and an unlucky 4 faults at the second last fence halted their progress. Nick Skelton and Aristo did get through to the 8 horse jump off and finished 8th!.

This competition took place in the afternoon and so we spent the morning visiting the Chateau Park which is regarded as a unique testament of Western landscape gardening. The sheer size of the 'water garden' with its Grand Canal waterfall, fountains and parterres was staggering. We walked for miles (literally) around the ornamental lakes and still did not cover the whole area!  

From afar, the Chateau appears to be dwarfed by the Grand Stables and it is only when you walk to the main entrance that you realise that it is huge - similar to Blenheim, Burghley or Badminton and the gardens are 10 times bigger!  The sheer scale of the whole site is deceiving and Nick and I were blown away by its beauty.

Its last resident, the Duke of Aumale was a son of King Louise-Phillippe and he created the Conde museum to house the chateau's magnificent collection of paintings, furnishings, books, manuscripts and art treasures. Sadly we did not have time to go inside the Chateau but hopefully we will be back at this show next year and can do so then.

Meanwhile back at the show we were in for a treat. The LGCT Grand Prix of Chantilly lived up to its star studied cast. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson from Sweden fully deserved his win having been runner up in the same class at Monaco and Antwerp. Four of the worlds best reached the third round and all four were clear again.  Second spot went to fellow Swede, Henrik von Eckermann, third to Canada's Eric Lamaze and fourth was Ludger Beerbaun of Germany who had an unlucky slip which must have cost him time in this frenetic jump off.

Skye's boss, was one of the 15, first round clears but four faults in the second round still gave her a top 15 placing but not a podium finish!   

Location Location Location

Friday, July 25, 2014

The main arena in front of the Great Stables and you can see the white racecourse rails between the two

The racecourse with all weather track on the right and then the showground

Behind the Great Stables are two huge courtyards with garages for carriages which now house the museum

Inside the Great Stables

The main arena of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly CSI1* 2* and 5* Show is situated right in front of The Great Stables built by architect Jean Aubert between 1719 and 1736 for Louis-Henri de Bourbon-Conde. This truly breath taking building is the perfect backdrop for the arena - talk about location, location, location! 

The Great Stables were built to accommodate 240 horses, 500 hounds and 23 carriages and are considered to be the most beautiful in Europe. 

From the Renaissance with the Montmorency family then to the 17th and 18th century with the Conde family, Chantilly is the absolute reference for Hunting. Daily hunting expeditions took place in the forests bordering Chantilly and Kings and Princes from all over Europe came to hunt at Chantilly and to send their Masters of Foxhounds to copy the hunting of the Conde family.  

In 1833 by a stroke of luck four friends on the way back from hunting improvised a race on the grass field which separated the forest from the Great Stables. The winner Monsieur de Normandie attracted by the quality of the site and the elasticity of the turf had found the perfect place to organise races and in 1834 a racecourse in front of the Great Stables on that very same grass field was developed. In 1836 the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and in 1843 the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) were created according to the model of our Derby and Oaks run at Epsom.  

Today, Chantilly has  the biggest and most functional race horse training facilities in Europe. It represents 1900 hectares, of which there are 4 training grounds, 120 hectares of turf tracks, 120 km of sand tracks much of these are within 47 km of the original Forest. There are 12 km of 'obstacle', tracks and over 80 trainers and 2600 thorougbreds with about 4000 horses in total involved in either racing, polo, equestrian sports or for recreational riding within the area.  

We could not resist having a look inside the Great Stables, part of which is now a museum which is located in some of the 23 garages for carriages!  Quite a few of the stables are still in use and even though it was 33 degrees outside, we went inside, to discover that the enormous height of the building kept its current occupants - which included three shetland ponies - very cool indeed. 

I can honestly say that I have never seen anything quite so beautiful and to top it all Skye was placed in both the International CSI2* classes that she competed in today with Aresse M and Full Monty. 

News from Chantilly

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ariva as a three year old in Holland

A year later with Skye in the 4 year old finals at Scope

A very easy journey to Paris on Eurostar and then a train to Chantilly and a short walk to our hotel. We are staying about a mile from the show ground an easy and beautiful walk across the park land bordering Chantilly racecourse.

We went straight to the stables to meet up with Skye and whilst she rode, we walked round the showground and then into Chantilly, before all meeting up for supper at a restaurant situated just behind the Grand Stables.

Jamie Wingrove and his partner Kirsty who are good friends of Skye's joined us and the walk back to our hotel on a warm evening was a lovely way to end our first day in France. Jamie trains a young American rider who is competing at Chantilly in her very first CSI1*. Emily is only 16 years old and four years ago this autumn I sold Ariva Jensma to event rider Clare Valender for Emily (the daughter of Clare's owners) to ride when she was old enough. Ariva then moved to the USA where he has been very successful with Emily and he has now returned to the UK as Emily and her horses are now based in the UK and are trained and managed by Jamie in a purpose built yard near to Clare!.

Skye produced Ariva when she was with Dave and Shaz Quigley and Ariva went to Jamie and Kirsty on Skye's recommendation when he was ready to sell on and Skye was too busy to be involved in the viewings. Kirsty loved him to bits and wanted to buy him for herself! You can imagine their amazement when Emily sent them a photo of Ariva (when telling them what horses were arriving from the USA). The photo she sent was this one of Ariva and Skye competing in the 4 year old final at Scope Festival in 2009!!!. Emily was equally amazed when they told her that they knew Ariva and Skye very well indeed! 

Ariva is now 9 years old and I hope to go and watch him compete in the UK very shortly. He is being aimed at 1.40m classes. What a small world we live in and so lovely that Ariva has turned out to be such a star for Emily. 

I first saw him as a two year old in Holland when on a buying trip with Toni Potts. The Jensma part of his name is in memory of the late Meinte Jensma who died just before Scope in 2009 - he and his partner Paula found Ariva and I bought him from them. They were planning to come and watch Ariva and Skye at Scope. Meinte was a legend in 'finding' show jumpers and dressage horses - and the world famous Apollo ridden by the then 'young' Nick Skelton was one of them!

Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Skye is competing in Chantilly

We leave this afternoon for this CSI5* show which also incorporates a CSI2* and a CSIYH 1* and hope to arrive in time for the Horse Inspection at 1.00 pm. tomorrow.

Some of the very top riders in the world will be competing including GB's Ben Maher, current World Number 2, Skye's boss who is current World number 7. Kevin Staut - World Number 6 and the list goes on. In addition Edwina Tops Alexander who is leader of the Global Champions Tour - this is different to the World rankings-  will be competing and trying to stay at the top as this is the 9th leg of this tour which is only open to the top World ranking riders!

Edwina has a new ride, having recently bought, with her husband Jan Tops (the organiser and brains behind the Global Champions Tour) the 8 year old gelding - Ramiro Cruise - produced by Dave Quigley - when owned by my brother. Ramiro Cruise last jumped at Bolesworth and many of you may have seen him being paraded in the main arena with his sire Ramiro B who stands at Nina Barbours,  Hart Hill Stud.

The show is held in the middle of Chantilly racecourse and our daughter Skye is competing in the CSI 2* section. We are so proud of what she has achieved and she will be riding two horses for the Leprevost stables, whilst her boss rides in the 5* star section. The horses belong to Belgium and French owners although we will be cheering her on as a GB rider!

Three years ago, Skye was yard rider for Dave and Shaz Quigley and Dominic Webb (20) who is based with Dave and trained by Dave is in Arezzo, Italy as a member of Great Britains Young Riders team at the European Championships.

Good luck Dom and make sure you bring home a medal! 

Politics and country life

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rose and Owen

I am not interested in politics unless they affect my life and the news that Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has lost his job is not good for those who live in the countryside.

Owen understands country life and country people and I like many others, feel that he is one of the very few in the current Government that do!  He was prepared to stand up to all those who are 'Green' many of whom do not have a clue and live in a world where badgers and foxes are cuddly pets!

I believe Owen received a very warm welcome at the Game Fair at Blenheim on Friday and a long queue lined up to meet him and express their sympathy and outrage. The 12 million rural votes are now seriously under threat and I cannot see how the lady who grew up in Leeds - whose parents were both Labour Supporters can be seen by Mr Cameron as a suitable replacement?

I am biased as Owen and his wife Rose are friends of ours and were at our home the day before the announcement was made. Owen was brought up in the country and lives in a very rural area near to here. He follows or partakes in country pursuits and has first hand knowledge of many of the problems that he was brought in to solve. He was doing a very good job and will be greatly missed. Hopefully it will only be a matter of time before common sense prevails and he will be back where he belongs.