Hot on the heels of Hickstead and Pyecombe it was time to pack for La Capelle, my last trip abroad for the year. Although the one star horses wouldn't jump until Friday the trot-up was early on Thursday necessitating arriving at the show on Wednesday evening. The very windy weather on Tuesday made me decide to brave the Eurotunnel rather than risking a very delayed sailing from Dover to Calais. I gave Luendi and Doonaveeragh Emma a quick hack before Becky Forte and I loaded up and set off for Folkestone. Having worked out how to check in, and having had the whole lorry x-rayed to check that we weren't rather uniquely exporting either people, arms or drugs we were first in the queue to board our train. The train before us left four minutes late and our train was delayed for two hours. Eventually we boarded a train and after a further hour we had to get off that train and onto another train because ours wasn't working. I had absolutely dreaded driving onto the train as I knew it was a very tight manoeuvre, having done it six times now I think I have nailed it. A total of four and a half hours delay meant that we arrived at La Capelle at 10.30 and it was nearly 2.00 by the time Becky and I had fed ourselves and were ready for bed.
La Capelle is held at a Trotting Race Track and the trotters are also stabled and exercised at the track which made exercising both Luendi and Emma pretty exciting. However, it was lovely for them both to be able to have a good stretch round the track and luckily I got them both ridden and Becky and I gave them a lovely graze before the rain came. From Thursday lunchtime until Saturday afternoon it deluged. The show had spent allegedly €600,000 on the huge new arena, but apparently drains were extra.
The three star horses started jumping on Thursday. It is not often that the only national anthem you hear at a French show is God Save the Queen, but Guy Williams and William Funnell won all three classes.
Doonaveeragh Emma was second to go in the 8am 1.30 on Friday, jumping a great clear round to finish just out of the money. Luendi jumped in the pouring rain, not minding the going at all, but finding the splashing of the other horses rather unnerving.
It rained relentlessly on Saturday morning. Once again Luendi jumped well, just being a little unsettled in the warm-up and at the beginning of her round. By the time Emma jumped the going in the warm-up was very holding and as I jumped the last fence before going in she just felt like she had to try a bit. In the ring she seemed to panic and ran me a couple of fences early on, giving me very little chance to find a good distance, and I came out very disappointed that she had been so difficult to ride. Luckily William Funnell was kind enough to say he thought it was just that the ground was horrible for such a careful horse, so I put it behind me and looked forward to Sunday.
The weather was good all afternoon and Becky and I were able to walk into La Capelle and have the most delicious dinner.
Sunday dawned crisp and sunny. Luendi was late to go in the 1.25 final and I gave her a long, gentle warm-up, mainly using the track inside the race course so that she was always on good, dry going. She jumped well outside and in the ring she gave me a cracking ride over the biggest course she has jumped to date. She just misjudged the top white plank, as she took off I knew she hadn't jumped quite high enough, but I was thrilled to bits with her. Emma was 2nd last to go in the 1.35 Grand Prix, the ground had dried up well in the ring, and I also worked her in mainly on the race course. She jumped the most fabulous round, and I didn't even know I had had the last fence until I looked up at the score-board. Looking at the video she slightly ran me to the fence and as a result I was a tiny bit closer than is perfect for her. I was disappointed, but it was a huge improvement from day two, and she is such a fabulous little horse, we will have our day.
It was amazing to drive back to Calais in blazing sunshine, and lovely to see the very pretty countryside that we had passed through in the dark on Wednesday. The Eurotunnel worked like clockwork on the way home and everyone was tucked up in bed by 11pm. Many, many thanks to Becky Forte who came with me. Good help and good company are invaluable at shows, and the horrible weather necessitated an excellent sense of humour. The organisers of the show could not have been more helpful, and I am sure that when we go back next year all the teething problems with the surface will have been sorted out. Considering the weather we had a very enjoyable time and as always we came away with new friends.
Doonaveeragh Emma and Luendi are now enjoying a few well deserved weeks in the field and I can concentrate on Lava hof ter Zeedycke and my new five year old who should be here by the weekend.