Posted on 11th November 2019 by Sue Tomlinson
Ever since MBF Dassett Legacy (aka Zam) sailed around his first event as a green 5yr old, who knew nothing about what he was about to encounter on exiting the start box, we knew he was a special one.
He has always had a relaxed self-confidence about him which, matched with his naturally bold nature, enormous scope and the ability to, quite literally, take things in his stride meant that we had always considered the 7yr old World Championships at Le Lion D’Angers to be a realistic aim for him.
So with the lorry packed, passports at the ready and alarms set for “all the 2’s” (2.22 am) we were off! Sue and Craig who have produced Zam, along with invaluable help from Hayley and Kate, were joined on their cross channel adventure by “Dassett Drive” Sally Taylor (herby known as Sallbo).Who was tasked with the roles of logistics manager, support crew, nap master and snack specialist extraordinaire!
Zam travelled like the total pro he is and arrived fresh and ready for action, settling well into his new home for the week.
Trot up and Dressage practice!
The stables for Team GB were ideally situated overlooking the comings and goings of the first test, the trot up.
As expected he passed with flying colours and so, after a relaxing graze and hack around the venue it was early to bed for all members of “Team Zam”!
With Craig’s test coming late on Friday afternoon, Thursday was about getting a feel for the cross country course and getting in some all-important dressage practice!
Fortunately for us, dressage trainer extraordinaire Lizzie Murray was on site as team trainer for the Irish contingent. So we were able to blag some help by way of lorry coffees and a suitable plug to charge a mobile phone!
Zam worked really well under Lizzie’s expert eye and the team were all hopeful that the pair would be putting their best feet forward the following day.
The cross country at Le Lion is well known the world over, for being one of the most imaginative and beautifully presented courses you will ever come across and it didn’t disappoint. With spiders, owls, chessboards, cottages, boats and trumpets to negotiate, there was going to be plenty to think about. But the questions were all fair and the ground was perfect… unlike the reports we were hearing from the dressage…
Some pretty torrential rain had been disturbing our beauty sleep since arriving on-site and this coupled with the freshly reseeded main arena was leading to some pretty sticky footing. Moving the arenas following Thursday’s tests, had provided some fresh ground. However, by Friday afternoon Lizzie’s advice of just try to ignore the ground and keep kicking was the best we could do!
We were really pleased with his efforts, after warming up with some of the best work they have ever produced together, things did come a little undone in the test with losses of balance and impulsion resulting in a drop of marks in some of the trot work, as well as one big mistake in a transition up. However good marks in the canter and a general impression to be pleased with, left us with a respectable mark of 36.8.
With so much more to come from this phase, it was great to see Zam confident and relaxed in the arena whilst obviously enjoying the atmosphere of the big occasion!
Saturday was to be a day of “so close’ and “if only” moments!
Zam was a legend and finished the course sound and happy feeling like he was on top of the world. However, a stumble between elements meant that he missed part C of a combination, incurring his first-ever 20 penalties on course, without even knowing that he had made a mistake!
With most of the more influential fences behind them and only 5 fences from home, a miscommunication between Zam and Craig meant another 20 penalties when they missed their turn to a straight forward hanging log. Popping it second time with no problems they completed the course with no further mishaps and returned home all the wiser for their adventures.
On paper it was not the result we had hoped for at all, especially as it does little to reflect the relative ease in which he completed the rest of the course. While the competitor in us was bitterly disappointed, the horseman within looking at the bigger picture, was thrilled.
Every time you ask any horse a new question or move up a level, you are taking on a big responsibility. You can only hope that you have got it right. Fingers are crossed that you have given them the tools and the confidence to answer with a joy for their job and a willingness to perform and, that is exactly what he did.
After pulling up well and looking very pleased with himself post cross country on Saturday afternoon, Zam seemed every bit ready to go again on Sunday morning!
A quick once over and trot up from team vet Liz Brown warranted a strong thumbs up and a very sprightly presentation in front of the ground jury!
With that formality ticked, it was down to the main arena to see how the ground was holding up for the 6yr olds and a course walk before the show jumping commenced.
Again, as with the dressage, concerns were being raised about the quality of the ground in the main arena. Clear rounds were certainly few and far between which is very unusual at this level.
Not for the first time this week, Zam’s temperament shone through. Always confident in this phase, we were thrilled with how he jumped. Lowering just one unlucky pole and again loving the atmospheric main arena. Pats and polos all round!
Competing at such a prestigious event was a real honour and something that we at team DE have been working toward for some time. Hopefully, lessons have been learnt about what it takes to compete on the world-class stage and appetites have certainly been whetted to return Le Lion in the not too distant future!!
Massive thanks to everyone behind getting this super young horse to his first World Championships!! The following, in no particular order, are some of the key team players in “Team Zamalam”.
Joshua Millar, magic shoes
Sallbo, literally got us there
Bodge, showjumping guru
Lizzie Murray the one and only, dressage virtuoso