What a brilliant end to the season and an unbelievable result for Wasting Light (Archie) at just 8years old. He had missed Boekelo with an overreach but was fit and in great form, so I was open to persuasion when Vittoria Panizzon suggested I travel out to Ravenna with her and her two horses in November for a CCI***. A good run at Aldon where he finished 2nd in the OI, and a bit of organisation later, we were heading off with Archie, Borough Pennyz and Merlots Magic in my Empire lorry for a three day trip to get there!
Having finished 6th at the very competitive Blenheim 8/9yr CIC*** old class, I knew we had a special 8yr old on our hands, but to improve again from there and make it feel so easy was better than we expected. It was a surprisingly tough track, given the time of year and the fact that it was the first long format 3star held at the venue. It ran entirely through woods with almost every other fence being a combination, so it was very intense, technical, and big. We also knew the time would be impossible to get given the twisty nature of the track, and lack of open spaces to make up time after the combinations.
Archie flew around, making it feel easy. We were the fastest time of the day with just 6time faults and he still finished full of running. He doesn't have a weak link cross-country and I think he is a proper four-star horse in the making. He is incredibly quick thinking - which can be very funny if a bit annoying at times, as he is a total fidget and always looking for things to amuse himself with - but it makes him amazing to ride. He measures fences up so quickly which means we don't waste time on the approach or landing. He has a snaffle mouth and having produced him since he was four we have a great partnership where minimal aids are needed so again no time is wasted. More impressively it hardly took anything out of him and he bounced out of his box on the Sunday and proceeded to jump an immaculate clear around a technical and up to height show-jumping track.
We finished 2nd, just 0.7 behind Vittoria and her superstar Borough Pennyz, so that puts in perspective how competitive he was. It would have been nice to win on his first outing at this level, but with Vittoria collecting points for Rio qualification, and a long drive back - I'm not sure how well that would have gone down! As Ireland are already qualified I was not chasing points, but brilliant to step up another horse to this level successfully and it would be great to have him as a back up to Fernhill Adventure next year.
I'd like to say thank you to my sponsors, Gain Horse Feeds, Bucas, Tredstep, Mervue Equine, Luck Greayer Bloodstock Shipping, and Empire Horseboxes for their help getting us out there and their support all season. A huge thank you to Claire Benfield for spoiling/bribing Archie all week, and Hollie for keeping everything running smoothly at home. Sadly his owners John Forde and Cressida Legge could not make it out to see him but thanks also to them for letting me take him out there and believing me when I said he was ready and that it would be worth it!!