Zara Phillips looked extremely impressive on Toytown this morning to move into third place, just 0.2pen behind British individual rider Pippa Funnell.
Scoring eights and nines throughout the test, just one mistake during the halt and rein-back pulled the combination down, but in an extremely competitive field, Phillips went far beyond expectations.
“Pippa Funnell’s boots are pretty big boots to fill,” said the 23-year-old. “But Toytown was pretty good during his test. I was just a bit disappointed by his impatience during the halt, but all I could do was go with him.”
With his impressive record, the big chestnut gelding shouldn’t blink at Saturday’s cross-country, but Phillips was talking down any question of it being a straight forward track.
“It doesn’t make it any easier that it is meant to be a three-star. There are a lot of big fences, but hopefully it will be a good course for him,” she added.
Phillips scored well enough to become Britain’s highest-place team member, and contributed significantly to the team position. They lie in second place on 131.5, less than 2pen behind Germany on 129.8.
Germany, much boosted by Bettina Hoy’s superb dressage score yesterday, look likely to head the leaderboard going into Saturday’s cross-country, but with one more rider to go from each team, there could yet be some upsets.
James Robinson, a vet from Herefordshire who is making his first appearance on the British squad, made a very good start in this competition on Comanche, finishing the morning in 14th place.
Britain’s individuals are still a major force on the leaderboard with five of them, as well as Britain’s three team members so far, in the top 20.
Blenheim results, Friday lunchtime
1. Ringwood Cockatoo (Bettina Hoy GER) 31.3
2. Ensign (Pippa Funnell) 37.8
3. Toytown (Zara Phillips) 38.0
4. Escape Lane *Mili (Didier Willefert FRA) 40.2
5. Carrera III (Susanna Bordone) 40.4
6. Expo du Moulin (Arnaud Boiteau) 40.9