Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto has kept hold of his leading position in the SsangYong Blenheim International CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-olds.

The former international showjumper has a 1.9 penalty lead over Britain’s Francis Whittington with Nimrod II and Australia’s Christopher Burton on Cooley Lands in joint second on a score of 42.6.

“I’m very fortunate to have the ride from Kate Walls, who has done a lovely job of producing [Cooley Lands],” Christopher told H&H.

“I rode him as a young horse in the seven-year-old [world championships for young horses at Le Lion d’Angers] and have always loved riding him – I’ve been pining over him for a few years so I’m delighted to say I seem to have him back for a while.

“I’m so pleased with his test, we are still getting to know each other as I’ve only had him for a week or so.”

Kazuma, who is based with William Fox-Pitt, is in just his second season as an event rider. His main aim is to qualify for the 2018 World Equestrian Games, with a longer-term goal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

He is currently campaigning three horses, including his leader in this class – Brookpark Vikenti.

Close behind in fourth and fifth are Holly Woodhead riding Parkfield Quintessential (43.1) and Oliver Townend with Ridire Dorcha (43.4).

Last year’s winners Willa Newton and Caja 20 will be looking to retain the title and are well within touching distance, lying in 10th on a score of 45.7 ahead of tomorrow’s (Saturday) showjumping.

The jumping phases look set to be influential, with less than two fences between the top-20 after dressage.

Don’t miss next week’s Horse & Hound – out Thursday, 21 September – for a full report from Blenheim