Arrivederci Roma!!

It is 3.00am and Tim and I are leaving with the lorry and the horses aat 4.00am.   It has been an amazing journey.   Thanks for all your support from back home in Oz.

Arrivederci Roma!

Pratoni – Cones Day

Up early and out to the venue to get ready for the cones.   Jessica was up early and had almost finished plaiting Diamond when we got there at 6.30am.   Michelle and I got “dressed” in presentation clothes and headed out to the cones warm up area with Diamond.   At 7.30 Tim came down and took over the reins to allow Michelle and Liz to go and walk the cones course.   Cones course was open between 8.00 and 8.50am.   Just after 9.00 Michelle drove Diamond into the cones arena.   It was the same area that the dressage had been in two days earlier.   The course was flowing, had 20 cones, 3 serpentines but no bridges or boxes.   Michelle  drove a good round with a couple of cones down and just over time.   It was nice to hear the Aussie crowd cheering as we went through the finish flags.  i don’t have any pics of us going through the cones but I’m sure there were plenty of Aussies in the crowd who took photos.

At 11.30 it was Liz’s turn to do the cones.   She did a good job with a couple of cones down but made the time.

Vin, Liz and Tim in Cones course

Vin, Liz and Tim in Cones course

After the cones we had a bit of a relax and some of us came back to the hotel for a siesta (we had had a few early starts and they were beginning to take their toll!!).   We headed back to the venue for the last of the cones.    There was only one double clear for the whole competition, a Polish driver.   (They sure had a great party later to celebrate which included dancing on the top of their lorry.   Your intrepid blog reporter risked life and limb to get pics and a Polish flag!!!)  Climbing up there was easy but climbing down it didn’t seem such a good idea!
Atop the Polish lorry!!

Atop the Polish lorry!!

The Polish know how to have a good time!!

The Polish know how to have a good time!!

After the end of the cones we all harnessed up and there was a Closing Ceremony.   Australia was the first to be  presented to the crowd. Dot Willcoxson, our Chef d’Equip rode with Michelle and Diana and Ned rode with Liz.    Vin and Diamond were well behaved as we trotted past the grandstands with cheers from the Aussie crew.    All the countries were introduced one at a time and then when everyone was lined up presentations were made to the Individual and then the Team winners.   Germany won both the Individual and the Team prizes.   After a few speeches we were sent around the arena again, this time we followed the host nation, Italy.  It was a very special occasion!
Closing ceremony

Closing ceremony

Patriotic Groom!!

Patriotic Groom!!

After the ceremony was over it was time to start packing for home!! Ugh, how does all this stuff go back in the lorry.   There was much celebrating and swapping of shirts and email addresses and Wendy brought out the wine!!  
Wendy, Glen and Ned enjoying a quiet moment

Wendy, Glen and Ned enjoying a quiet moment

The lorry is pretty much packed with  3 vehicles loaded and just the horses to put on, the last vehicle to load and then Tim and I will head off in the morning. 
It has been an amazing event, we all learnt heaps, we are all tired but happy.

Pratoni – Marathon Day

Day started early when Michelle and I began walking obstacles at 7.00am.   Back to the stables, harnessed up, did the usual marathon nerves things and set off at 9.55.   Section A started just out the front of where our camp was set up so no dramas with having enough time to get to the start.   We made the times on the Section A and Section D and no problems at the Vet Check.   Jessica was there to help sponge Diamond and make sure we were all ok to set off on Section E.

We drove Mo 1, 2 and 3 and as we entered Mo 4 Michelle made the decision to retire from the competition.   Diamond was not moving keenly into the obstacles so we headed back to the lorry park.   We were both very disappointed but felt it was the best decision.

 

MO 1

MO 1

MO2

MO2

MO3

MO3

Elizabeth and Tim set off at 11.55.   Went well through Section A and D.   There were 18 compulsory markers on Section A, 6 on Section D and 20 on Section E so back steppers were kept busy keeping track of where to go.   They very successfully negotiated all eight obstacles.    Like all marathons there were places where a time could have been faster here or a turn driven better there but to complete the course was a great achievement.

MO 3

MO 3

MO 4

MO 4

MO 7

MO 7

MO 8

MO 8

It was a huge day with many very fast times being recorded in some obstacles.   To see the top drivers negotiate these obstacles is quite breath taking.   About 70 drivers took part in the marathon course so there was plenty to see all day.  There were plenty of good viewing places for spectators and you could follow a particular driver through most obstacles without having to walk too far.

Presentations for Marathon and Dressage winners (top 10) were made in the evening.

Pratoni – Dressage Day

We were up very early and out to the venue.    We had sent the evening before planning our every move for today so everyone knew exactly what they had to do, where they had to be and when they had to do it!!!   We have a whiteboard up in the lorry that shows our daily timetable.

Elizabeth was to be on at 11.00am so Jessica began the plaiting and Vin was soon spruced up and looking a million dollars.   Rhonda and Bryn finished polishing the vehicle (there had been a mass of Aussies helping wash the vehicles the day before, thanks Paula, Sue, Melissa, Troy) and got the lamps on. 

The storm clouds were brewing and we were all looking nervously towards the skies.   Michelle and I just made it back from walking MO’s and down it came.   There must have been several unlucky drivers who had to cope with that storm in their dressage test.   Elizabeth was dressed and Vin was harnessed, we waited and waited and when the timetable said it was time to go,  the sun came out, they put to and were away.

The drivers then go through a series of warm up arenas which they are timetabled into for about 10-20 minutes.   Then they are moved on up to the next one, getting closer to the “big arena” with each move.   Finally it was time for Elizabeth to be called into the arena.

She drove a confident test and Vin looked magnificent with his lovely collar and brass trimmings which Diana had brought over from Australia.   They received a loud cheer as they finished.    Elizabeth and Vin had scored 59.39.

Elizabeth, Tim and Vin

Elizabeth, Tim and Vin

Then it was time to start getting Diamond ready.   He was washed, plaited and spruced up. He looked wonderful.  Soon it was time for Michelle and me to get tidied up and ready.   As Michelle was the last driver to go there was a lot of “hurry up and wait” but we followed our timetable and finally it was time to put to and head out to the allocated warm up arena.  

Michelle moved through the warm up arenas and Diamond was feeling relaxed but attentive.   At last 6.05 came and Michelle and Diamond were presented to the main arena.   Michelle entered the arena confidently and  drove a creditable test for her first World Championship.  They left the arena to the cheers of Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!She scored 66.56.

 

 

Michelle, Lorraine and Diamond

Michelle, Lorraine and Diamond

Pratoni – Day Four

Out to the venue early and got the horses plaited, groomed and make up on!!   We all got into our team uniforms and led the horses down to the marshalling area for the trot up.  It was goosebumps stuff as we headed to the trot up area in front of the grand stand.     Australia was the first country to go.    The stewards checked the horses’ passports and then Vin was called up to go first.   Vin trotted up well and looked fit and well.    The Ground Jury gave the nod.  One horse through.   Then a quick change and Tim took Diamond for his trot up.   Diamond is feeling and looking fit and he too got the nod.  Yay, that nerve wracking part of the process over!!

Then back to the stables for our scheduled work out time in the practise arenas.

Diamond working in arena

Diamond working in arena

Vin working

Vin working

We had lunch with Paula Rhodes and Sue French who had arrived the evening before.

Then off to have our first look at the obstacles.    They look great, loads of options and technical gates.   It is very hot but we managed to walk the whole eight before heading back to the stable area.

We have just whizzed back to the hotel for showers(so not a lot of time for photos and blogs) because we need to spruce up before walking in the Opening Ceremony tonight.   After the ceremony, drivers, grooms and trainer will be taken on a course walk and then to the Nations Party.

Opening Ceremony was great fun.   Australia was introduced first to many cheers and shouts of Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy.    It was certainly a tear jerker for some of us.

Aussies at the Opening Ceremony

Aussies at the Opening Ceremony

 

Michelle, Liz, Dot and Jessica

Michelle, Liz, Dot and Jessica

Nations Party was a huge hit.   All the countries set up a table of their national food, drinks  and flags, hats, etc.  Not many people other than Australians ate the vegemite sandwiches!!!   There was some amazing food and drink on offer!   The music also kept everyone jumping and there was a fair bit of late night partying!!

Tim, Lorraine, Alanna (Brits groom) and Jessica

Tim, Lorraine, Alanna (Brits groom) and Jessica

Aussie supporters!!

Aussie supporters!!

Pratoni – Day Three

This morning we headed out to the venue after our al fresco breakfast overlooking the countryside.    Michelle and Elizabeth were scheduled to drive in the practise dressage arena from 9.00 til 9.30.   Both girls warmed up their horses and then went into the arena for 15 minutes each.

Diamond

Diamond

Vin

Vin

The first of our Aussie support crew arrived today.  There were many tears and hugs as Diana, Glen, Wendy and Joy were welcomed into the camp.

Aussie Aussie Aussie

Aussie Aussie Aussie

Shortly after that Ilma and Ron Cunnew arrived and then Rhonda Thomas and her son Bryn.   

We cleaned some harness, cleaned some lamps, got the ID numbers for the horses and team members.   Dot had to attend an official Chef’s meeting and give out more information to the team.   Plans were made for the following day and then off to dinner and off to bed.

Pratoni – Day Two

Up early and out to the venue.   The horses were very eager to get out and about.   We take them out for a walk and a pick twice a day.   Michelle and Liz both harnessed up and took their very keen horses out to the practise arenas.   The horses both  had a good look around but  settled into the atmosphere very quickly.   After the horses were worked they were washed down and went back to their boxes for a siesta.

Pretty much everyone had the afternoon off and some took the opportunity to do a little sightseeing.   Michelle and I headed off in the car and just drove!!   Saw a very nice lake but couldn’t find the road down to it!!   Drove around Castel Gandolfo (Papal summer residence) and had a wander through the streets, luckily it was still siesta time so we saved our Euros. 

We have regular team meetings with Dot, our Chef D’Equippe, and plans are made for who needs to do what at certain times.   We also need to know where everyone is at any given time.   Dot has a whiteboard up in the lorry so we can see at a glance where everyone is and what they are doing!

Team meeting at the hotel

Team meeting at the hotel

We tried on some of our uniforms.

Team photo

Team photo

 In the evening we went back to the venue and went along to a party hosted by the French team.   It was great to see everyone there and meet up with a few of the other teams.   We particularly liked the Swiss uniform.  

Swiss logo!

Swiss logo!

We had dinner out at a restaurant just near the venue,  with Boyd (who is the British team trainer) and Jill Holah their Chef D’Equippe.

At Pratoni – Day One

Sunday morning we loaded up the lorry and followed the British team over to the venue, leaving the horses safely in their boxes.   Michelle, Liz, Dot and Doug were there to meet us.   It was then we discovered that Michelle and Liz had been here the night before not knowing that we were only 200 metres away, “tired, dirty and hungry” to quote Tim!! 

We soon set up camp just near the British team and Dot had our flags and bunting up so everyone knows who we are!

Spot the Aussie flags!

Spot the Aussie flags!

Michelle had to head off to the airport with James Campbell who had helped drive the Lorry to the venue.  James had to fly back to an event at Erdig in the UK where his sons were competing.  James was great fun and a big help to us getting all and sundry to  Pratoni.

We walked the horses back, had their passports checked and installed them in their boxes for the event.

Diamond arrives

Diamond arrives

Soon we (Tim and I) were whisked back to the hotel for showers and then food.  Bliss!!   The hotel room is beautiful, a clean shower, a bed with sheets and a pillow and a balcony with a view!!!   And…… internet access.   (I am in heaven!!)

View from our balcony

View from our balcony

That night we dined with the British team at a local restaurant.   One day when you get time ask Elizabeth for her description of how she booked the table at the restaurant.   She is obviously very good at charades!

Brits and Aussies

Brits and Aussies

Jill's dessert

Jill's dessert

Jill Holah, the British Chef D’Equippe, won the prize for the best dessert!!!

Road (trip) to Rome – Day Three

We left the stables at Milan as soon as we could, the bugs were unbearable and were driving the horses quite mad.

It was quite a hot drive today, so numerous stops to offer the horses water and just generally check that they were going ok.   There had been an accident on the motorway so traffic was to a stand still on our side of the road for probably 45 minutes.   When we finally got going again we discovered that the accident was actually on the other side of the road but the hold up was just caused by everyone slowing down to take a look.   This caused a ripple effect and the whole side of the motor way was completely stopped!

On past Bologne, Firenze(Florence) and towards Rome.   Drove around the outskirts of Rome and then the turn off we had been looking for!!   We found the event venue fairly easily and then a bit more of a detour while we hunted for our stopover place for the night(you could not get into the events grounds until Sunday).   Finally we spotted Ian Bertram’s lorry and we knew we were in the right place.   Got the horses off and settled them into their boxes.  We knew that Michelle and Liz were not far away but we had no phone service.   They had called at the event venue but  did not realise we were just a few hundred yards behind the event stables!!    

P1070518

Road (trip) to Rome – Day Two

Friday morning we decided not to leave too early as the horses had another long day on the lorry.   We gave them a walk and a pick of grass bandaged and booted up, loaded and we were off on the road again.   We introduced James to a Swaggie’s breakfast ( a cuppa and a good look around).  On the way out of Dijon we recognised all the roads we had driven down the night before.   We did ponder that if we could not get out of the town, we could offer our services as tour guides or possibly even as taxi drivers, such was our familiarity with the streets!   The British team did leave early so we will let them find the next venue and then when we get close to Milan we will just phone them for directions!!

We drove through the Alps, through many tunnels and over enormously high bridges.   The signs said we had to wait an hour to go through the Mont Blanc tunnel but we managed it in a bit less although it was  a very slow climb up to the entrance.

P1070486

This pic shows us driving though the tunnel with our little koala sitting on the dash!

We made it into Milan and to the stables without a hiccup (didn’t even need to phone the British team).   However there was a downside to this venue.   The bugs and mosquitoes almost carried us away.   They gave the horses a terrible time and Tim and James got no sleep(they were in the back of the lorry).  I was safe and sound in the sleeper and blissfully unaware of the boys’ problems!

P1070493

Once again Ian, Trina, Elana, Pam and Steve(the British team) were very generous with their hospitality.

Tim, James and I walked into the local village and found that there was a bit of a party going on there.    Tables were set up in front of the town hall, a band was playing and a few food stalls were set up.   We managed to buy ourselves a cold drink and eventually! some pizza and enjoyed a very nice evening.

P1070503