Stunning weather, a beautiful location, great company, top competition and a modest degree of success combined to imprint the weekend odyssey to Stradbally on memories for a long time to come.
Fenway will probably remember it best for Libby’s rally-driving antics on the motorway near Naas. He survived a hairy episode with just a nick on his eyebrow, happy to have had the full scope of his trailer to recover his balance after the unexpected manoeuver. He’s never again going to complain about wearing his travelling boots…
With that little blip behind them, the three musketeers enjoyed a worry-free, relaxing and peaceful weekend. Audrey excelled at many things over the course of the expedition but her crowning glory was the selection of the camping spot beneath the shady boughs of a majestic beech tree. Fenway did his level best to consume the entire source of the shade but the tree got its own back on him by depositing globs of beech nut resin onto his shiny coat and right into the middle of his plaits.
By the end of Saturday all objectives were accomplished: safe arrival at the event, qualification for the Intermediate Working Hunter on Sunday, and a ribbon for the dashboard on the way home (6th in the Mediumweight Hunter).
Sunday was a day of what-ifs. What if Libby hadn’t changed her whip to the other hand in the dying stages of a beautiful Prix Caprilli test, terrorising Fenway into score-plummeting acrobatics and the frustration of a 7th place finish? What if she hadn’t hustled him at the wrong time in the Working Hunter, causing him to knock a pole and excluding him from the showing phase. And what if Fenway had behaved like the cooperative beast he usually is in the Long Arena Dressage instead of blotting his copybook with a rare display of intransigence.
Who cares about the what-ifs! It was a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Arriving back to home territory as the sun was setting on Sunday evening, it all seemed well worth the five-year wait.
Pictured below: Stradbally idyll.