As you are probably aware I have had two shows - Waikato Champs and Auckland Manukau Champs. Waikato was to be Des' debut at Level 5, unfortunately he came up a little uneven a couple of days before so I decided to scratch him. Nothing serious, he is now fully recovered and back in full work but he was long overdue for a bit of a break anyway. It does mean that we will be attending Showfields on the 9th of January now just so he won't have his Level 5 debut at the North Island Champs!
I still attended these two shows with Gosh - his first outings since HOY in March. And what a season opener! At Waikato we were still finding our feet but managed to place 3rd in the Inter II and 4th in the Grand Prix in good company. The musical didn't go so well for us - the faster grass surface catching us unawares. However we still managed to come third overall in the GP section behind seasoned campaigners Charlott Bayliss on All Black II who are in their fourth Grand Prix season and Sally Isaac on Vincent St James who is a past National title holder ad HOY winner. And Auckland Manukau was even better. We were second in the Inter II, a very close 4th in the musical (just 0.1% separated 2nd to 4th) and 4th on a very tired pony (somewhat overcooked by his rider) in the Grand Prix. All with our best percentages to date and more than enough to qualify for Nationals, HOY and the Challenge Finals in one hit. Again we were pipped for the reserve by the same combinations - but this time even closer on countback - Sally's fractionally better performance in the GP just nudging them ahead. The fact we were 4th instead of 3rd in the musical on countback as well made it all the more frustrating! I managed to get a nice plug in for the sponsors in my introduction for the musical freestyle as well and it was a crowd favourite performed to Christmas carols. Below are a few pics taken by Geegees photography at Waikato Champs.
Overall I'm very happy with our performances. We really need to up the game for the seasons big shows but the basics have been well laid. With the mileage I intend to gain between now and then and of course some more training I'm really looking forward to a big finale for the season. I may have to re-evaluate the plan with Des and campaign him towards the young horse classes rather than the grade finals but both options are still open to us at this point. Will keep you posted.
One final thing I have to say before I sign off is to thank Sheena & Dermot & Pippa & Alan for being the most wonderful hosts. You guys are treasures, truly.
Have a fabulous Christmas with friends & family and I'll see you in 2010!!