What an amazing result for Vaguely North (Jimmy). He was on top form all week and to come 8th at the world's premier CCI**** was no less than he deserved. Out of all the horses I ride he tries the hardest, and I am so delighted for his owner Henrietta who has been incredibly loyal and supportive over the years. He has had a few "what ifs" in his career, so to get a big result under his belt means an awful lot. He went clear inside the time in 2011 only to be withdrawn before show-jumping, having struck into himself, and ended up with a career theatening injury. We weren't sure if he would ever compete again never mind returen to top level, even better than before. Then we went well at Bramham last year - 4th after cross-country - only to have the last 3show-jumps down to end up 12th, and then went a pretty spectacular splat at Burghley last year! He wasnt travelling well there but I should have pulled him up earlier. So after all this, out of all the results we have had over the years, this means a huge amount to the whole team here.
The week didn't start brilliantly with a scare at the first trot up though! We were held for inspection when he looked a little uncomfortable. It was nothing serious - only a small cut on his heel which the wet weather had aggravated, and he was being a bit precious about, but enough to wake us up! He was passed fit to run, and thankfully the week went a hell of a lot better from then on. He did a personal best of 42.9 in the dressage for 10th place - not bad for a thoroughbred who used to hate this phase. Cross-country he gave me a dream ride - in a beautiful rhythm and jumped effortlessly. He did lose a shoe and I found him slip at the turn at the white gates so I went long at the next combination - the silver birches - so as not to risk another slip, and we ended with 4.8 time faults. He recovered brilliantly though and couldn't wait to get back to the stables to eat!
The show-jumping was a huge track - proper up to height and technical with a lot of turn backs. Jimmy jumped the best round of his life and was unlucky to have the first fence down. There were so few clears and as this was the phase he struggled with I couldn't have been happier with him. I really owe it to the help from Robert Snaddon who has been helping me since last year. He has done an incredible job on me and Jimmy together and it really paid off when it mattered.
It was a great week and lovely to catch up with sponsors and lots of friends and supporters. It really is my favourite event and I am already looking forward to next year - Jimmy has come out of it really well so hopefully he can go a few places higher in 2016!