A new face leads the CCI3* at the Blair Castle Equi-Trek International Horse Trials after today’s cross-country (26 August).

Hazel Towers, from North Yorkshire, moved up from fourth after dressage with the second-fastest round on her 10-year-old mare Simply Smart.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Hazel, 30. “I’m thrilled to bits with her.

“She has no blood and is essentially just an Irish bog pony, so we’ve been doing lots of fitness work. The aim was just to get round in one piece and keep her happy.”

“She was a bit green at Burgham, although she went clear, and I was aware I was having to ride more than normal. So I nursed her round here and I could feel her grow in confidence. There were a couple of moments where I had to get my leg on, particularly at the first water where there’s a lot to see, but she helped me out at few fences.”

Hazel had 24.4 time-faults, while Louise Harwood put in the fastest round for 18.8 on Balladeer Miller Man and holds third. Dressage runner-up Alice Dunsdon (Sambo III) has dropped to third with 30 time-penalties.

Dressage leaders Kirsty Johnston and WTTL Opposition Sky Law were eliminated when they fell near home at the Clark Thomson Insurance Brokers owl hole at fence 26.

In the CCI2*, Emily King has moved up from fourth after dressage to lead with the on-form Walitze F Vejgard, who belongs to Jane del Missier and added nothing to her first-phase score.

“She’s really competitive at two-star level and was fantastic round the course,” said Emily.

The time proved influential in this class and Jane’s other horse, the dressage leader — and pathfinder — Cooley Currency had 20.4 time-faults under Emily’s boyfriend Sam Ecroyd to drop to 15th. He was run quietly because he is being saved for Blenheim next month.

Shane Rose (Gurtera Cher) holds second and Storm Straker (Well Designed) third after both recording clears in the time.

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Brazilian Olympian Carlos Parro was another to take the lead having been fourth after dressage. He added nothing to his score of 42.1 today to top the CCI* riding Sir Digby.

“He belongs to Simon and Lindsay Middleton of Zebra Products,” explained Carlos, who started the horse eventing at the end of 2015. “The idea was to sell him, but then we thought we’d keep him and go to Le Lion d’Angers [the seven-year-old World Championships] this season, so he is here to qualify for that.”

Full report from Blair in H&H this week (issue dated 31 August).