It was beautiful Belton this year as the sun shone, the usual biting Easterly wind was missing and with the footing being good to firm there was no need to bring out the wellies.
Friday kicked off with a great start when Lordships Graffalo ( Walter) finished 3rd in his novice section adding just 0.4 of a time fault to his 28 dressage. Owned by Michele Saul and produced by Ros Canter Walter looks to be like quite the star for the future and a possible contender for Le Lion d’Angers this autumn.
No Excuse ( Jimmy) followed that up with a win in his Friday OI section adding just 4 time to his rather flash 24 dressage to complete a great day for Michele Saul. Two lovely horses and clearly Tom thinks allot of them as well as they have sealed their partnerships very quickly.
The three CCI3*S section were full to overflowing and Braveheart B ( Dougie) really held his own with a 32 dressage, a clear showjumping and they flew cross country to just add 3.6 time for 8th place. Barbara Cooper owns Dougie and has watched him move up through the grades and now that he is advanced he is really rewarding both Tom and Barbara with his consistency. Barbara also owns Dreamaway ( Dreamer) who looked pure class in his CCI 3*S section which jumped early on Sunday morning having posted a 27.2 test on Saturday to take the lead.
Figaro van het Broekxhof (Fig) had rather a strung out weekend with an 8am dressage on Saturday and nothing else to do until half eleven on Sunday! Fig scored a 33.5 in the CCI 4*S which was more than credible in good company.
By Sunday morning the temperature had dropped back to a more ‘normal’ range for Belton and the chilly wind saw a different dress code compared to Saturday afternoon. Tom, with his usual disregard for making a fashion statement, appeared on the cross country riding in a vivid turquoise coat which either means he was parked next to Izzy Taylor and swiped it off the ramp or it was the warmest most practical coat he could find first thing in the morning!
Having showjumped clear Dreamy was setting off cross country with his lead intact. He is a big, bold jumper with a huge gallop stride and Tom had to anchor him a bit in the first third of the track in order to keep control over the technical fences. As he exited the water and headed back across the park he saw a true steeplechase stride to the ditch and wall which Dreamy took and then they were away! It was pretty cool to watch as Belton does let the horses open up and Dreamy has some gallop. They took out a stride at the last combination to cover the ground in three and then had open distances to the last two which brought them home just 1 second under time to take the win and Tom’s first FEI win of 2019.
Fig then not only showjumped clear but then went into the Grantham Cup ( CCI 4*S) cross country with a chance of a win. Tom capitalised in this and was one of only 4 combinations to make time across country and took the class and his second FEI win of the season in less than a couple of hours!
Three wins, a third and an 8th is a pretty amazing tally across the board at an event like Belton. Tom has started the 2019 season where he left off in 2018… a class winner and the representative of an incredible team.