After a day’s cross-country in torrential rain, Bettina Hoy remains leader of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials CCI3* on the elegant 10-year-old Westphalian Seigneur Medicott.
In slippery conditions — first to go Andrew Nicholson produced the fastest round of the day, just one second over the optimum, putting him fifth on Teseo — Bettina went fast enough to have one showjump in hand going into the final day.
“That was hard work!” she said. Though the round was sticky in places, they came home with 8.4 time-penalties to lie on 41.3. “I went out as fast as I could but you do have to allow an extra stride at times — I have certainly done my fitness work.”
Rising up a place to second on 46.9 is the USA’s Hannah Sue Burnett on her experienced Harbour Pilot. The pair are in Britain especially for Blenheim and ate up the course.
“I’ve not run in this weather too much,” said Hannah. “It was quite slippery. But nothing backs him off.”
She will be hoping to be the second American in succession to win Blenheim after Clark Montgomery’s victory last year.
Wide-eyed at finding herself third with just 3.2 time-penalties is local rider Lydia Hannon, 27, who came 29th here in 2014 on Carol and Christopher Harris’s My Royal Touch.
“I’ve never gone into the final day in such a position,” she said after her round on the mare, who is managed carefully as she has a history of tying up. “We have been at three-star for quite a long time and came here to get a Badminton qualification — anything else is a bonus.”
Oliver Townend rose nine places to fourth after a quick round on Dunbeau.
Harry Meade, who had been second after dressage on the one-eyed Orlando, sensibly pulled up as the horse was not travelling well — “He was hating it.”
Ibby Macpherson, who had been lying fourth, was furious to have a refusal at the second wood shack at fence nine, and retired.
McEwen takes lead in CCI
With the cross-country having run early, from 9am to 2pm, many stayed on to watch the young horse CIC3* showjumping. Britain’s Tom McEwen and his own and Frank and Jane Inns’ Toldeo De Kerser managed to snatch the lead ahead of overnight leader Jonelle Price on Ascona M, though only learnt this from H&H by phone while walking the cross-country.
“I’m really looking forward to the cross-country tomorrow,” he said. “He’s a good galloper and he enjoys the rain — he wouldn’t even mind some more.”
Although Jonelle jumped clear, three time-penalties cost them their lead. Third is Willa Newton with Lady Sarah McCorquodale and her father Joey’s Caja 20. Laura Collett sits sixth and seventh with Mr Bass and Pamero 4.
France shines again in the ERM
The Event Riders Masters (ERM) contestants may have wrung their tailcoats out afterwards, but produced plenty of smart tests. Astier Nicolas leads the way on 41.3 penalties with Carole Broad’s Molakai, but fewer than five penalties separate the top 14. Equal second are New Zealand’s Jonelle Price on Cloud Dancer II (the young horse CIC3* winner here last year) and France’s Thomas Carlile on the smart-moving Upsilon.
Nicola Wilson is the best British rider, equal fifth on One Two Many, while Paul Tapner, Oliver Townened and Gemma Tattersall, all contenders to win the £30,000 prize for the leading rider of the series, lie ninth, 10th and 14th respectively.
Tomorrow’s young horse CIC3* cross-country starts at 9am, with the ERM riders following at 1.15pm after their showjumping. The forecast is for sunshine!
Full report of Blenheim in H&H this week, out Thursday, 15 September.