We set off for the CSI1* Deauville with a lot of confidence. I had lovely Heather Field, who used to work for Trevor Breen, helping me, so I knew I was in good hands, the horses have been going confidently and we didn't have too long a journey in front of us. I decided to sail from Newhaven to Dieppe as Newhaven is only 30 mins from home and it is much cheaper than the Portsmouth sailing. I was an interesting plan. Firstly we completely missed the signs into the port because there aren't any, and then we had a the regular power play about whether or not the captain was going to take horses on the glass like sea. However, onto the boat we got, with our companions who were a lot of vintage cars and an original VW campervan that was only one year younger than me.
The drive out of Dieppe is really pretty and hilly and when we got to Deauville it was easy to see why they call it "Newmarket on Sea". We drove past the most beautiful houses and studs before arriving at the showground. The showground was absolutely beautiful, with Heather to help it was easy to get the horses settled and the lorry parked away in a quiet place. Both horses trotted up well - Luendi a little too well, she hardly ever put a single foot on the ground, and I gave them both a quick ride. The showground was right on the edge of Deauville so we had the lovely treat of being able to walk into the town and have a delicious dinner, only slightly marred by the hamburger eating competition on the next door table. Luckily we had finished eating before the winner was sick in the bushes!
The first day was just a 1.15 for Luendi where she had an early fence as she was just a bit tense, but then jumped beautifully. My great friend Jo Marsh-Smith, who taught me so much about producing horses, came to watch at RIHS and thought Luendi was a bit undisciplined between the fences, so we have just had draw-reins on her at home, not to pull her head in, but just to let her know that she doesn't have to fling her head in the air and hop up and down when I want to shorten the stride. It has worked like magic and just enabled me to help Luendi shorten her stride after the fence and to keep her collected as we come off the corner so that I can pick the best distance for her. Emma jumped a lovely round in the 1.25 speed just touching the second last fence but still finishing well up the order.
As always overseas shows are great for making new friends, and at Deauville it was lovely to meet Teddy and Carla Stevens. Deauville had the best welcome drinks - Calvados with either apple juice and brandy or calvados with tonic - which is a truly excellent drink. Two drinks each and I just about made it back to the lorry to cook supper for everybody.
Luendi jumped well in the 1.20 on Saturday, just having the first fence, and Emma jumped a good round in the 1.35 but was unlucky in the combination and then got upset and ran me to the last fence. Carla and Teddy then gave Heather and I a lift to Honfleur for the evening where we wandered round the beautiful harbour and had the most delicious dinner.
The CSI1* horses were last to jump on the Sunday. There were only four clears in the CSI2* Grand Prix so we were expecting a decent 1* Grand Prix and we were not disappointed. Usually I think the course looks big when I walk it and a bit better once I am on Emma. This time I thought it still looked big when I went into the ring. Sadly I just had her a tiny bit close to the first fence before she jumped, I think, the best Grand Prix round she has had so far.
I was actually thrilled with her round, I felt that apart from the first fence I had ridden well and that we do have a CSI1* win in us. It's just a matter of getting all the little bits right at the same time.
We then had a long wait for Luendi to jump in a very challenging 1.25 two phase where only 20 out of 135 competitors managed to get into the second phase. Luendi seemed very tired in the warm-up so I was extremely surprised when one of them was Luendi. I think I was also very tired by this time and gave her a particularly bizarre ride to the last fence resulting her finishing 7th rather than 3rd. However she was a star and really rose to the occasion because she felt so tired and she really gave her all. She was only jumping Discovery at the end of November and now takes everything in her stride.
We had to make a quick getaway to catch our overnight ferry home. This was a slightly strange experience as apparently we weren't expected to be female so they didn't have a berth for us. We were accommodated in the Commodore's Cabin directly under the bridge which had one very small double bed, but a luxurious bathroom. There were no curtains so we weren't allowed to use any lights in case we confused the officers on the bridge. We both got a little bit of sleep and were very glad to be home at 6am on Monday. Heather was quickly off to her next job and I started the lorry unpack. It was brilliant having such excellent help at the show and made it more like a holiday than a show.
Originally I meant to stay in France for St Lo and Auvers. But I have Lava hof ter Zeedycke to get back into work and would like to find a five year old to run with her and also Mark has not been very mobile with his ruptured Achilles' Tendon, so a change of plan will see us going to Felbridge and Edenbridge and Oxted before the All England Championships at Hickstead.
Lava (Katlin) is back in a stable at Hickstead, looking like a little bull and hopefully Shane's lads will have a quick sit on her before she comes home on Tuesday. She was very well behaved before she went out, but she has a very tight turning circle and a very short front and they are a lot quicker than me.