Withington Manor

Saturday at Withington was an interesting mix of gale force winds, fresh horses and the feeling that you were stuck in an industrial tumble drier.  There were some lively dressage warm up with movements not required and some interesting tests although Tom’s trio of advanced horses were, on the whole, exceptionally well behaved.

Braveheart B ( Dougie) was in one of the hottest OI sections that has run all year with 5 star horses aplenty and his score of 25 was all credit to him.  He backed that up with a double clear adding just 4 time for 5th place and it’s easy to see why he is one of Tom’s favorites.  CHF Cooliser ( Eliza) is also getting smarter and smarter on the flat and her 29 reflected that as well.  Double clear with 10 time saw her in 14th and another solid run. Dreamaway ( Dreamer) also posted a 29 and left all the poles in place and he had a nice run for 15 time as he went plenty fast enough at Belton to deserve a hack around Withington.  The intermediate here is a really great course with hills and enough undulations to give an old fashioned feel with the horses needing to be balanced and responsive.  The recent heavy rain made the footing as near to perfect as possible with the wind just drying out the top of it to make it secure.

Sunday dawned a much nicer day with Storm Hannah having receded and the sun coming out and just the three or four layers of clothing required. The novice at Withington is a very grown up course with lots for the young horses to think about and is also very educational.  Tom had three lovely young horses at what is one of his most local events and it was a real family day out with both Bobby and Ali on site.  Cassiana de Riverland has been produced by Tom since she was a baby and her 32 and double clear was testament to her talents and she finished just outside the top 10. Chatsworth Diamond has been around a few 100’s with the legendary Ian Stark and is owned by the Duchess of Devonshire and Tom’s brief is to prepare him for the Duchess’s own event in a couple of weeks time.  Heading to that one star is going to be interesting as it may just come a couple of months early as he was quite green around Withington! A flashy 26 test was followed by a clear round over a technical showjumping course and then Tom had to work a bit cross country as Withington is a stiff enough test for your 4th ever novice.  A glance off at the first combination was the only blip and much will have been learnt during the course of that round.

Brookfield Benjamin Bounce has a name almost as long as his face.  He is a charmingly old fashioned sort and as he is nearly pure white stands out in a crowd.  A workmanlike test for a 32 and a single rail was followed up by a smooth trip cross country where he looked very experienced as he handled the ups and downs of the course very well. Tom says he doesn’t stand still but he actually had a bit of a kip by the board at the cross country start which was relaxing for Tom but a bit of a pain for the other 26 riders waiting to go as they were blocking the view of the numbers for everyone else!

And the mystery of Tom’s new colours are solved…its a sponsors jacket hence the sudden appearance of Tom in turquoise and ” I don’t have another coat in the lorry” which is so classic Tom its not true.  I wonder if he will be sporting it at Badminton next week….