Tom’s mini break in Ireland continued on Saturday morning with the showjumping phase in the CI2*L class with Brookfield Benjamin Bounce. Bounce belied his low mileage with a worldly wise expression on his face as he took in the crowds, the flags and the buzzy atmosphere and warmed up beautifully in the fairly tight collecting ring. Then he went in and jumped a super confident round to put Tom back on the podium at Tatts which has been a pretty regular place for him to be ever since he first started competing there. He rose up to second and was just 0.4 off the lead in his first long format so that’s a pretty cool way to tick a box for a qualification!
Next up was Dreamaway in the CI3*L cross country. Perfect footing after more overnight rain and cool and breezy conditions meant the stage was set for a good round to capitalise on his good test and they set off at a good pace and flew through the first water on he way up through the course. Dreamy has been well prepped for this run with his win at Burnham Market and his second place at Belton, both in the CI3*S classes before two steady OI runs at Withington and Rockingham to set him up nicely. The second water involved a slope to a roll top and Dreamy quite unexpectedly slammed on the brakes which surprised Tom as much as those of us watching and Tom was quick to represent only for Dreamy to down tools again and he quite meant it. Tom now had a decision to make and he made up his mind quickly… the podium finish was gone, as was the qualification as Dreamy now had 60 jumping on his card but Tom was not going to reward negative behavior with a walk home so he got through the combination before hacking Dreamy home for the experience. Ian Stark’s tracks educate, the footing was perfect and Dreamy needed to learn to finish what he started!
Braveheart B ( Dougie) put a smile back on everyones face when he went out a bit later and attacked the course with his usual enthusiasm and enjoyed his spin, coming home just two seconds over time to sit in the top 10 overnight.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny with some serious wind that did not deter the hardy Irish crowd that were filling the venue from the get go. By this stage of the week Tom had lost his voice so he was croaking inexplicable instructions to his support crew who mostly just proffered a bottle of lucazade whenever he said something to them. I thought it was a great way to appear sympathetic whilst having no idea what he wanted. Dreamy jumped a very good schooling round for a couple of time and just 4 faults and Tom learnt what he felt like on the third day which is important for the future. Dougie tried his best as always but just tipped a rail near the end of the track to drop out of the top 10 but he still stayed in the top 20 and picked up valuable mileage as well as his qualification.
The team were done by 12 and were pretty keen to finish packing up and head off for the long trip home via Holyhead. Not sure that Tom’s holiday panned out quite as expected but all three completed and head home sound, happy and ready for their own mini break whilst Tom gets back to the day job with 20 or so others to ride. And who could have predicted that it would be Bounce who went home as leading Tatts horse? Go Bounce!