France’s Tom Carlile broke records to win the third leg of the 2017 Event Rider Masters (ERM) series at the St James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials (6-9 July).
Riding the nine-year-old grey stallion Upsilon, Tom became the first rider to lead across all three phases. The combination scored a personal best of 30.8 in the dressage, also the lowest ERM dressage score so far, and held that position to win by a comfortable margin of nine marks from Badminton heroes Andrew Nicholson and Nereo, who took this class last year
They added 1.6 cross-country time-penalties to that dressage score to finish on 32.4, a record in the ERM series.
“All the praise must go to my horse – he’s so special,” said Tom, who bought the Holsteiner-Anglo Arab as a three-year-old from his breeder. “The dressage is getting softer and we can add the sparks now. His showjumping is spotless unless I mess up, and he is getting faster cross-country as he is getting lower at his fences.”
Horse and rider are now aiming for a medal at the upcoming European Eventing Championships in Strzegom, Poland in August.
Andrew and Nereo, having their first run since their Badminton victory, completed a neat and obedient dressage test for a mark of 34.9 and second place. They added one showjumping time-penalty, and Andrew considered the French pair were unlikely to lose their lead so took his 17-year-old chestnut round the cross-country without hurrying. A total of 5.6 cross-country time-faults meant a final score of 41.5.
“His main objective is Burghley and I just tried to keep him in a nice rhythm,” said Andrew. “He felt lovely. I haven’t jumped a cross-country fence on him since Badminton and when I got to the warm-up and jumped a few, I realised why I am so proud of him.”
He judged his round precisely to cross the line with less than a penalty in hand over third-placed Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II.
This was Mark’s best placing – and first cross-country clear round – in the ERM series so far, and he laughed: “I’ve been trying to sit on this podium for 18 months!”
Another French pairing, Sidney Dufresne and the black 10-year-old stallion Tresor Mail, were the only ones to go inside the time across country in the ERM section to jump up from 10th to fourth place.
Britain’s Pippa Funnell dropped a place from fourth after dressage and showjumping to fifth on Chippieh, having accrued 8.8 time-faults, but was pleased with the horse – the pair had a nasty fall at Ballindenisk in the spring.
New Zealand’s Tim Price is riding Cekatinka while his wife Jonelle is pregnant, and they whizzed round the cross-country with just 1.6 time-faults for seventh place.
“Man, that time was tight – I was going as fast as I can!” said Tim.
The next three places were filled by British riders – Gemma Tattersall and Pamero 4 seventh, Francis Whittington and Hasty Imp eighth and Laura Collett and Grand Manoeuvre ninth.
The only faller of the class was Sam Ecroyd, who went swimming when Arco BB knuckled down on landing in the main water fence. Emily King, on Dargun, and Austin O’Connor, on Kilpatrick Knight, lost their places in the top 10 with run-outs.
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William Fox-Pitt took the Barbury CIC3* on new ride Clifton Signature, adding 1.6 cross-country time-faults to a 40.7 dressage score to take the title from Andrew on Swallow Springs.
“It’s my biggest win for ages; a great surprise,” William said.
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