Amelie Billard and Derby de Longueval, the surprise overnight dressage leaders, held on to their advantage at Blenheim today despite the fact that two of the event’s biggest guns – Pippa Funnell on Jurassic Rising and William Fox-Pitt with Wallow – swung into action towards the close of this phase.
No one was more surprised than the 18-year-old French girl to overtake Wednesday’s top scorers, Pippa and Sue Bunn’s stallion Viceroy II, on Thursday but to remain in that position, with the horse she won as a prize in the French Riding Clubs Championships nine years ago, was something she could scarcely have dreamt of in her first appearance on British soil.
Pippa and Jurassic Rising, going sixth from the end of the huge field of 115, threw down a great challenge but still finished 3.4 penalties adrift of the Amelies excellent score of 33.6.
Two horses later it was the turn of Pippa’s great rival William, with Wallow, but well though they went they finished a further 0.6 of a penalty behind in third place.
The British-based Neil Spratt, a member of the New Zealand team vying with Japan at this event for a place in the Athens Olympics, was the only other rider to notch up a score in the thirties. His total of 38.4, with The Astronomer, gave him fourth place, 3.6 behind Pippa and Viceroy II.
As the field prepares to go into cross-country, the highest placed of the Japanese is Yoshiaki Oiwa on Voyou du Roc, in equal 21st place on a score of 50.4.
1, Amelie Billard (Derby de Longueval, FRA), 33.6
2, Pippa Funnell (Jurassic Rising), 37.0
3, William Fox-Pitt (Wallow), 37.6
4, Neil Spratt (The Astronomer, NZL), 38.4
5, Pippa Funnell (Viceroy II), 42.0
=6, Darrell Scaife (Chase The Melody), 42.8
Daisy Dick (Spring Along), 42.8
8, Blyth Tait (Welton Envoy, NZL), 43.0
9, Marcia Kulak (Horton Who, USA), 43.2
10, Emily Mackenzie (Doubtless William), 43.4