Piggy French claimed the £16,000 first prize in the first leg of the 2018 Event Rider Masters series at Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth.

Riding Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo, with whom she represented Britain at the 2017 European Championships at Strzegom in Poland, Piggy was in pole position going into cross-country after showjumping clear.

At that stage Ireland’s Sarah Ennis was on top of the podium after collecting just two cross-country time-faults aboard Horseware Stellor Rebound, with whom she won the CIC3* at Chatsworth in 2014.

But Piggy’s dressage score of 27.3 meant she had several seconds in hand, and the pair posted a flowing, economical round to cross the line with two seconds to spare. They became just the sixth combination to make the time in the CIC3* classes at Chatsworth since 1999.

“My horse deserves a great day like this – I’m over the moon,” said Piggy. “It was hard work out there on quite soft ground, but he makes my job easy because he’s so balanced, and you can shorten and lengthen his stride easily.

“I thought at the beginning of the year that he would be great for this series – it suits him – and I hope we have more fun with him this year.”

Sarah Ennis, whose “Rocket” lived up to his name by being very strong round the twists and turns of Ian Stark’s track, collected £12,000 for finishing second.

“We had some hairy moments, but I didn’t have much say in the whole thing – luckily he’s super-sharp with his front legs,” said Sarah.

Third was Izzy Taylor on Call Me Maggie May, who rose up from 16th after dressage with a double clear round and 4.8 time-faults.

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Dressage leaders Laura Collett and Mr Bass finished fourth after dropping one pole in the showjumping and collecting 6.4 time-faults across country, while France’s Gwendolen Fer, second after showjumping, fell to fourth with eight time-faults.

Their compatriots and fellow CCI4* winners Maxime Livio and Qalao Des Mers were sixth going into cross-country, but Qalao Des Mers unseated his jockey at fence five.

The second leg of the Event Rider Masters series takes place in Wiesbaden, Germany, this weekend (18-19 May), and boasts a seriously competitive field, including Michael Jung, Ingrid Klimke, Oliver Townend, Gemma Tattersall and Christopher Burton.

For the full report from Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth Horse Trials, check out this Thursday’s issue of Horse & Hound, on sale 17 May.

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