Piggy French finished six seconds inside the 6min optimum time this morning to win Blenheim Horse Trials’ inaugural CIC*** for eight- and nine-year-old horses.

Two-phase leader Piggy set off last in the reverse order cross-country and she couldn’t afford to be even a second over the time to retain the top spot. But she kept her foot to the floor and never looked like faulting on the bay Flying Machine.

Anne Marling, Sue Wilkinson and Belinda Keir’s Flying Machine has been with Piggy since the start of this season and the pair have not been out of the top 10 at any of their events, bar the British intermediate championships when they led the dressage but the horse was then withdrawn. This was always the plan as the owners wanted to aim him at Blenheim rather than that event.

Eight-year-old Flying Machine was British Eventing five-year-old champion with his former rider Leonard Goerens in 2005 — the same year Granntevka Prince, currently leader in the CCI***, won the six-year-old title.

Although there were some jumping problems on Eric Winter’s course for those lower down the order, the obstacles couldn’t trip up the experienced riders in the top echelons. But only five made the optimum time so time-faults caused some juggling of the order.

Andrew Nicholson stayed penalty-free to hold second on Rosemary Barlow’s grey Saumur winner Avebury, while Oliver Townend’s clear inside the time lifted him three places to third on dressage leader ODT Master Rose.

CIC*** FINAL RESULTS

1.Piggy French on Flying Machine (GB) 46.2
2.Andrew Nicholson on Avebury (NZL) 46.5
3.Oliver Townend on ODT Master Rose (GB) 50
4.Pippa Funnell on Mirage D’Elle (GB) 51.3
5.Ruth Edge on Nick Of Thyme (GB) 52.3
6.Jeanette Brakewell on Take It 2 The Limit (GB) 52.5

Full times and results from Blenheim

Log onto www.horseandhound.co.uk later for a final report on the CCI*** and buy Horse & Hound next week (17 September issue) for a full report.