Posted by on June 7, 2011

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Oliver TownendOliver TownendOliver Townend

Better late…

Hi All,

For possibly the first time I think I can say that I really enjoyed Bramham! I’ve not had the best of times there in the past, but Neo was fantastic all the way last weekend and I couldn’t be more pleased with him. He coped with the distance and the undulations making it all feel easy – you can’t ask much more than to finish on your dressage score, and to be third was an added bonus. After his performance there – it was a big track – I think we can aim for an autumn four star, all being well.

Even better, Paul Barker and I kept our Mix & Match title! Mix & Match, for those of you who have never been to Bramham before, is where an eventer and a show jumper are put together: the eventer does a short part of the cross country track, including the water, and the show jumper a short course of show jumps, all against the clock. I rode Arctic Mouse who thoroughly enjoyed it, and it’s a bit of fun for us and the crowds on the Sunday!

Looking back, as you all know Badminton wasn’t good for me – so I’ll move quickly on to Kentucky where Goldmine exceeded all my expectations. It was his first 4* and he did a good dressage test in a big atmosphere. He then jumped clear around a really tough cross country track, picking up just 2.4 time penalties which moved him up to 7th place – and he then climbed another place on the final day with a clear show jump round too.

I was seriously impressed with him – across country he just got better and better, with  lots of gallop and his ears pricked the whole way. I had a great ride, and am even more excited about him for the future than before.

Chatsworth was mixed – it was another excellent performance from Neo, gaining his Bramham qualification in fine style with a CIC*** win and the fastest cross country round of the day. I’d hoped to qualify at Burnham Market earlier in the season but we had a silly run out because I was taking it steady on the firm ground… I don’t think steady really works for either him or me! Brigadier and Carden Imp also had great runs in the Advanced, but my luck didn’t hold though and I fell off Master Rose!

We then went off to Tattersall which was definitely drama packed – I got stuck behind an accident on the motorway on the way to the ferry at Hollyhead. The road was totally closed, so we missed our scheduled boat at 2:30 Wednesday morning and then had to wait until the next one, which was 8:40 Wednesday. It was all touch and go – because of the weather there was a threat that no boats would leave at all. Luckily we just made it to Tattersalls in time for the trot up! All the horses went very well, so it turned out to be a great weekend, thanks mainly to my owners the Ryans, Nina Barbour and Stephen Hazeldine who were so incredibly supportive all week and even helped with some of the grooming at times.

The younger horses have also been going well and clocking up some great results which is exciting for the future – I have some really talented horses at the moment. The yard has been ticking along, with Steven Smith keeping everything fit and making sure that all the horses stay on their schedules while I’ve been away.

This week will be busy, with the Express Eventing qualifier at Bolesworth Castle on Saturday and then I’m taking five horses to Llanymynech on Sunday to try and qualify for the novice championship at Gatcombe.

Maybe I’ll see some of you there.


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