The 22-year-old put in a neat, polished test with his father Tristan’s Tom Tom Go 3 to score 37.
“He felt amazing this morning in the arena — so focused on me the whole time,” said Niklas. “I couldn’t be happier with him.”
The ERM dressage is run in a seeded order, with the best pairs going last on recent form, but unusually the leader today did not come from the final session as Niklas was in the third group of riders before the judges. However, his recent somewhat average CIC3* form belies Niklas and Tom’s experience. But the rider is now a medical student, so is devoting less time to his riding than previously.
New Zealand’s Mark Todd holds second after scoring 38.7 with Niki Ryan and Elizabeth Donald’s grey Kiltubrid Rhapsody. ERM riders can pick two songs to be played during their tests and Mark has taken this a step further by actually cutting and arranging the music to suit this horse’s paces.
Chris Burton lies third for Australia on 38.9 with Graf Liberty, who belongs to a syndicate. A slight eagerness at the end of the walk and one poor flying change prevented him from taking the lead.
Oliver Townend (Cooley Master Class), Franky Reid-Warrilow (Dolley Whisper) and US rider Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (Fernhill By Night) hold the next three places.
Current series leader Gemma Tattersall sits seventh on Pamero 4, the former Laura Collett ride she took over earlier this year. She was disappointed with her mark of 42.5.
“I’m devastated,” she said. “That’s by far the best he’s gone for me.”
More eventing news:
The showjumping and cross-country for the ERM class takes place tomorrow.
The ERM series is coming to a head now, with just one more leg, at Blenheim, to follow this weekend’s competition at Blair.
Full report from Blair in H&H next week (issue dated 31 August).