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Australia ahead at Blenheim

Teenager Jessica Irvine-Brown from Australia maintains her comfortable dressage lead as an international field prepare for cross-country day at the Blenheim Petplan International Horse Trials

Australia’s Jessica Irvine-Brown continues to stand at the head of affairs in the CCI*** at the Blenheim Petplan International Horse Trials as the final day of dressage draws to a close.

Jessica, 19, had travelled to theNorthern Hemisphere for the first time from her home in New South Wales in the hope of making Australia’s squad for next week’s World Equestrian Games in Spain.

However, she has only been named as reserve, and so has been makingher mark in a different way.

On Thursday afternoon Jessica and her grandmother’s 13-year-old mare Belcam Aaberdeen swept into a four-point lead, overtaking France’s experienced campaigner Jean Lou Bigot, 36, and Nogency, who hadbeen in the lead for some time.

Jessica began riding by accident as a young girl when her mother caught a pony which was running loose on a road and took it home.

These days Jessica works in a fast food restaurant to fund her riding.

Another Australian, this time British-based Clayton Fredericks, became the only competitor riding on Friday to break into the top five, and he is well poised in third place on Ben Along Time.

Sweden’s Viktoria Carlerback is in fourth with Onyx, while Milla Clayton-Bailey is the highest placed British rider in fifth with Zarzoo.

Mary King’s test on King Richard impressed the judges Sue Harry Thomas, David Lee and Christian Landolt enough to put her in sixth place. (Mary won this event in 1996).

Yet another Australian, William Levett, fresh from a successful Burghley, lies in seventh with Norwegian Connection NJ, with Sharon Hunt (Tankers Town) in eighth.

Kiwi Neil Spratt and his 2001 Thirlestane CIC** winner Cosmos are ninth, while Eric Winter rounds up the top 10 with Flying Sun.

As far as the rest of the field is concerned, America’s Karen O’Connor, who crashed out of Burghley last weekend, is hoping to do better at Blenheim with Joker’s Wild, who is in equal eleventh place.

France’s Franck Bourny, a winner of this event in 1999, is equal 14th with Gamblers Fancy, while William Fox-Pitt, who pulled off a one-two here in 2000, has relinquished his top 10 dressage placing acquired on Thursday and slid to equal 43rd with Ballincolla.

A field of 92 is set to tackle Mike Etherington-Smith’s revamped cross-country course during Saturday, which has been designed bearing in mind the fact that many top names are absent and on their way to the World Equestrian Games.

This includes Pippa Funnell, who recently withdrew her Bramham winner Walk On Star.

Result after dressage

    1, Belcam Aaberdeen (Jessica Irvine-Brown, AUS)

    2, Nogency (Jean Lou Bigot, FRA)

    3, Ben Along Time (Clayton Fredericks, AUS)

    4, Onyx (Viktoria Carlerback, SWE)

    5, Zarzoo (Milla Clayton-Bailey) GBR

    Toread Thursday’s Blenheim report click here

    Keep in touch with the latest news with our daily online reports from Blenheim every day, plus see full report with pictures in next week’s Horse & Hound (12 September), plus expert opinion and review of this event in the October issue of Eventing magazine

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