The two riders who topped the leader board at the end of Thursday at Blenheim Horse Trials remain in prime position at the close of the dressage.
No one today could break into the 30s, so America’s Allison Springer still holds first place with Arthur, a horse she re-routed here after three stops across country at last week’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Emily Baldwin also holds her overnight position — second — with Drivetime. Emily’s score of 38.5pen puts her five marks ahead of New Zealand’s Neil Spratt, the best of today’s competitors.
Neil performed an excellent test with the grey 11-year-old Welton Crackerjack gelding Upleadon, winner of Bramham CIC*** in June, to take third.
“He did a very good test at Bramham, but he’s done a couple of average tests since then so we’ve just been trying to get him back to his Bramham form,” said Neil.
“Winning Bramham was a big occasion for him and it got to him a bit and he got tense after that. We’ve been concentrating on getting him soft and relaxed again.”
Neil’s test was only marred by a slight “hump” in the first flying change, which he blamed on himself, saying he had “strangled” Upleadon slightly in the counter canter going into it.
Lucy Wiegersma is fourth on nine-year-old Granntevka Prince, whose only big mistake was trying to canter out of the rein-back, and Pippa Funnell is just 0.2pen behind Lucy with Ensign, second here in 2006.
Ensign would almost certainly have ended up ahead of Granntevka Prince but for a blip in the final counter canter half-circle. As he approached the P marker, he seemed to suddenly stop in his tracks and Pippa showed all her skill in restoring the counter canter for a few strides so that she did not also lose marks for the flying change.
Sarah Bullimore and the Dutch-bred Salerno — the 2005 British Eventing six-year-old champion — were the first to make an impression on the top three today, claiming third soon after the lunch break on 46. They end the day in sixth place.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s cross-country, Neil Spratt said: “It’s very inviting to take on the straight routes, but you have to bear in mind the track is quite hilly.
“There are a couple of points where you go up a steep hill and there’s a difficult fence at the top — you need to be aware you may not have a full tank of petrol. But it’s a nice galloping track and if you have a good round you can be very pleased.”
The first horse on tomorrow’s cross-country is Godington Haarlem, ridden by Ruth Barnard, at 10am.
Last week’s Burghley winner Oliver Townend leads the inaugural CIC*** for eight- and nine-year-old horses. Oliver and the Master Imp nine-year-old ODT Master Rose scored 44 to lead by 1.2pen.
Piggy French — who has recently been promoted from the reserves’ bench to represent Britain at the forthcoming European Championships — lies second on the in-form eight-year-old Flying Machine.
Andrew Nicholson is third on Rosemary Barlow’s Saumur winner Avebury.
The competitors in this class show jump tomorrow after the CCI*** cross-country finishes and go cross-country in the lunch break on Sunday.
CCI*** RESULTS AFTER DRESSAGE
1. Allison Springer on Arthur (USA) 36.9
2. Emily Baldwin on Drivetime (GB) 38.5
3. Neil Spratt on Upleadon (NZL) 43.5
4. Lucy Wiegersma on Granntevka Prince (GB) 45.4
5. Pippa Funnell on Ensign (GB) 45.6
6. Sarah Bullimore on Salerno (GB) 46
CIC** RESULTS AFTER DRESSAGE
1. Oliver Townend on ODT Master Rose (GB) 44
2. Piggy French on Flying Machine (GB) 45.2
3. Andrew Nicholson on Avebury (NZL) 46.5
4. Ruth Edge on Nick Of Thyme (GB) 47.1
5eq. Pippa Funnell on Mirage D’Elle (GB) 47.7
5eq. Jeanette Brakewell on Take It 2 The Limit (GB) 47.7
Stay up to date with daily reports from Blenheim over the weekend and buy Horse & Hound next week (17 September issue) for a full report.