I always enjoy the CSI2* at Keysoe. The team make a huge effort to put on a special show, with excellent courses in a lovely arena, good parties and an excellent commentary team, and so far, after four years, pretty good weather. This year CSIYH1* classes for five and six year olds were added to the schedule which gave me the chance to take Catokyo with me. Sadly Culana Z has knocked herself in the field and wasn't quite fit enough to jump the six year old classes. I also took Benny and Doonaveeragh Emma for the 2* classes.
Steff and I set off at the hugely civilised hour of 9.30 on Monday, luckily leaving plenty of time as the traffic was dreadful. Having sorted out which stables were ours - not as simple as it sounds, we heaved the dreaded tack locker, shavings and haylage up to the stables and I got the horses ridden while Steff trotted them up. We got finished in time for a welcoming glass of champagne and then were early to bed as the five year olds started early on Wednesday.
Catokyo warmed up well, but was rather overcome by the flags and rustling trees in the windy conditions, and we ground to a rather dramatic halt when trying to go round the dolphin statues. However, she jumped really well, and is always trying to get to the jump and jump it, and just had four faults when her concentration deserted her. It was quite a bold ask for both of us, as although she jumped on the Sunshine Tour, she hasn't actually been to many shows, and she has only jumped one Newcomers with me. Benny jumped in the 1.25 and just made up too much ground in a related distance and Doonaveeragh Emma was a star in the 1.30 for a low placing.
On Wednesday we had another early start with Catokyo who jumped a brilliant clear round at 1.15 to be 1/100th of a second over the time and get one time fault which actually cost £70, as she finished 11th rather than equal first.
Andrew Saywell very kindly helped me work Benny in, this time in Emma's bit, and he jumped brilliantly in spite of being buried in the second last fence. Emma jumped what I thought was a very speedy clear in the 1.35 to finish 11th. These 2* riders and horses are fast!
Andrew Saywell helped me warm Catokyo up for the five year old Grand Prix on Thursday. She worked in well and jumped brilliantly until her tiredness took over at fence 9 where she just couldn't shorten and at the last fence where she decided taking a stride out was easier than doing the extra one that was there. I then jumped Benny in the 1.25 Grand Prix. In spite of basically cantering him straight through the first fence I finally think I might be getting the hang of riding him. I have had years of water-skiing behind clever, busy little Emma and other little blood horses, and Benny is a big, and rather slower fellow. Although Andrew and Jake must have despaired at fence one, we recovered to jump a good round once we got past fence three!
There is always a risk in letting Emma go quickly which is that it makes her very silly and Keysoe was no exception. She actually warmed up quite well, but hit the first fence, which made her furious with the result that she got even hotter and hit the second. It had been a long wait for a rather disappointing end to the show, but Emma is a fabulous little horse and has helped me achieve things I never even dreamed off, so she is allowed the odd mad moment.
Steff and I finally got home at 11.30 on Thursday evening, seriously exhausted. Steff was a star having the horses spot-on every day, and it was lovely for them to have a good graze every afternoon, which is hard to find time for when I am on my own.
I had been looking forward to greeting the newest arrival on the yard. Meet Pebbles:
Heather Trevor-Jones found Pebbles for us, sadly she mustn't have been looking when her mother and siblings relocated and was found abandoned on a farm. Our wonderful yard cat, "Cat", very sadly had to be put to sleep in March, and so Pebbles has got important shoes to fill. So far she has charmed us all with her feisty, independent and cuddly personality, and hopefully when she manages to get as big as a rat she will do a good job keeping them in their place!
We had a lovely weekend with Anna, Tom, Sophie and Alex at home for the wedding of our great family friend Tom Ginnett and Fi Lewis. The Ginnett family have been a huge part of our lives in Sussex, and of the girls' growing up with Tom a little bit older than Anna and Millie a bit younger than Sophie. They all Pony-clubbed and hunted together and we have had many hilarious Christmas celebrations together. It was the most beautiful celebration of two very special people tying the knot, and it was fitting that the speeches were held with a stunning sunset in the background.
A great weekend was made even better as my cousin Grania McAlpine was over from Australia so we drove up to Newmarket to have lunch with Fee and Edmond Mahoney. A lovely excuse to catch up with family and friends.