Great Britain’s Francis Whittington showjumped clear on Easy Target (Smokey) to triumph in Blenheim Horse Trial’s CCI3* this afternoon (Sunday 14 September).
The duo piled the pressure on overnight leader William Fox-Pitt. William had to settle for the runner-up spot when Freddie Mac knocked down the first part of the treble at the end of the course.
“We’ve been working hard for this,” said Francis, referring to his back-up team and the horse’s owner, Catherine Witt. “Around the course I could feel myself grimacing and grunting as Smokey was jumping. Coming over the last fence was a relief.”
Francis also finished fifth aboard Fernhill Highlight, another horse owned by Catherine.
William Fox-Pitt said of the 10-year-old Freddie Mac, who is owned by Lady Best and Jane Kier: “This is a good experience for him to have under his belt. He’s a big horse [16.3hh] who is just coming into his own.”
Jodie Amos finished third on Nicola Stocker’s Wise Crack, the horse with whom she was fifth at Bramham CCI3* in June.
“I’m ecstatic — the horse has been phenomenal all week,” smiled Jodie. “To finish third among the best of the best is exciting.”
Pippa Funnell made a meteoric rise up the leader board from 20th after dressage to fourth when Second Supreme finished on his first-phase mark of 47. Kitty King and Persimmon continued the British domination by slotting into sixth, 1.2pens ahead of Kiwi Tim Price, who dropped four places down the order when Ringwood Sky Boy kicked out two showjumps.
Three riders lying inside the top 10 endured expensive rounds. Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon crashed outside the top 20 when Merlots Magic hit eight fences, while American Philip Dutton’s Fernhill Cubalawn rolled three and dropped to 17th and Jock Paget’s Shady Grey finished 22nd after knocking down four.
The eight/nine-year-old CIC3* came to an exciting conclusion, with Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo (pictured right) clinching victory by 0.2 of a penalty over fellow Kiwi Andrew Nicholson and Cillnabradden Evo.
“I knew it would come down to the clock,” said Jonelle, who picked up 4.4 time-faults. “Faerie Dianimo is a feisty little thing — she’s an absolute princess at home — but I think that attitude makes her as good as she is.”
Andrew recorded one of only three clears within the time, but his eight-year-old gelding was hampered by four showjumping penalties.
Antipodeans dominated the top 10, with Paul Tapner (Indian Mill), Jock Paget (Clifton Signature) and Sam Griffiths (Favorit Z) finishing third, fourth and fifth respectively, plus Kevin McNab piloting Casperelli into ninth.
France’s Thomas Carlile claimed sixth with Sirocco Du Gers, ahead of overnight leader Tim Lips, whose 15.2 time-faults aboard Bayro dropped him to seventh.
Georgie Strang finished best of the Brits in eighth on Cooley Business Time and Ireland’s Joseph Murphy secured 10th aboard Westwinds Hercules.
Read our full report from Blenheim in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 18 September