Nothing like a spot of working from home and Tom certainly made the most of it with a staggeringly successful first two days of the Festival. It’s not so easy to get horses to concentrate in a home situation but with the Park Bowl full of happy spectators and a buzzy atmosphere there was certainly enough to mark it out as a different day!
Tom had three rides in the Novice Championship and they all scored well on the flat on Friday. Dreamaway ( Dreamer ) was the best of the group with a very smart 28.5, The Magician ( Mars) not far behind with a 30 and Braveheart B ( Dougie) on 31.1.
Today saw Tom showjumping early in the undulating main arena which presents it’s own unique challenge. This is very much a part of Gatcombe and the small warm up on the side of the hill is tricky enough too. Add to that the massed crowds sitting on the walls and milling around the arena and it is in every sense a proper championship for the horses.
All three proved that they were well up for it. Dreamer added a rail, Mars did exceptionally well in his biggest showjumping test to date to also just add a rail and Dougie proved yet again why he is one of Tom’s favorites as he jumped clear.
The cross country track was a strip of green in a baked brown park and it was hats off to Peter Phillip’s team as they had clearly worked so hard to get the footing as good as it could possibly be when you are over two months into a heatwave. Gatcombe did benefit from the thunderstorms last weekend but even so it cant have been easy! Tom was early out and he laid down the gauntlet early on with a fast clear on Mars for just 6.8 time and eventual 10th place.. Dougie went a fast as his legs would carry him for 7.2 and 7th and the lovely grey Dreamer picked up just 5.2 for 6th. Three horses in the top 10 at the Novice Championships is an incredible feat and a tribute to Tom’s whole team as well as his riding.
Meanwhile in the intermediate Championships CHF Cooliser was quietly working her way up the leaderboard. A good test saw her post a 28.1 for 3rd, a super clear showjumping left her in 2nd and she blazed the way round Captain Mark Phillip’s track as pathfinder for a scorchingly fast 8.2 time to take the lead from the offset and held it throughout a long afternoon. All I can say, having watched it, is that Eliza has certainly not only earnt her supper tonight but most definitely her place in the history books as a winner of the Intermediate Championships. There are some smart names on that trophy and it is the first time that Tom has joined them.
The screenshot shows the speed!
And as if Tom wasn’t on hob-nobbing terms with the Princess Royal already he then went and got a podium finish with Dream Big ( Dreamy) who was running in the RoR Championships. A 30, a rail and a clear cross country in time over the Corinthium Cup track was good enough for 3rd. This class is for ex racehorses only and it was lovely to see Dreamy holding her own amongst her peers.
At the end of the day Strike Smartly ( Paddy) did his test in the British Open and in the usual no fuss, no nonsense Paddy way he did a very nice test for a 25.2 and 6th spot overnight. Paddy will showjump tomorrow and then the Open horses go cross country in reverse order tomorrow afternoon.
Live streaming of the cross country on the link below: