Aston Le Walls one-day event gets underway today, with organisers staging a special class for the British and other Olympic hopefuls incorporating a CCI**** dressage test.
All six of Britain’s Athens-bound eventers (including reserve Mary King) will be riding their Olympic prospects in the event, as their last run before they head to Athens on 6 August.
The line-up is absolutely first class, with several international contenders making a show. The event takes place over two days, with combinations due to complete the dressage and show jumping phases today, and cross-country tomorrow morning.
World and British number one, William Fox-Pitt, rides his favourite, Tamarillo, who won Badminton in such appalling conditions, but also competes another short-listed horse, Ballincoola.
In addition, he rides Birthday Night in the straightforward advanced class – this will be the horse’s first advanced competition, and follows on from his success in the CCI** at Windsor in May.
Moon Man is also to have an advanced outing – the gelding has refused to play ball on his last two international outings at Badminton and Bramham, pulling himself up in the cross country, but a confidence-boosting OI last week could have put him back on track.
Pippa Funnell is due to ride Primmore’s Pride and Cornerman in the CCI**** event, but the line-up of quality horses from her yard does not stop there. Supreme Rock has his first outing this season in this event – he was sidelined due to injury towards the end of last season. Pippa also rides the stallion Ensign in the advanced section.
The newcomer to the British Olympic eventing team, Sarah Cutteridge rides The Wexford Lady and Exclusive Imp, both of which finished in the top 10 at Badminton, in the CCI**** event. She also has Future Perfect and Erbium – on whom she finished third in the Ford Ranger Eventing Grand Prix at Hickstead yesterday – in the advanced sections.
Full brothers Shear L’eau and Shear H2O both get a run under Leslie Law in the special class. The younger of the two, Shear L’eau, is due to make his Olympic debut in Athens, but the pair managed a neat one-two at Tythrop Park last week which Leslie Law would be keen to repeat. He also rides Fox on the Run and Another Garrison in the advanced sections.
The final one of the five, Jeanette Brakewell competes her Olympic ride, Over to You in the CCI****. The combination have had a consistent season in the run up to Athens, the highlight of which so far is coming seventh at Badminton. Jeanette also competes Highland Spirit in the advanced section.
Some other Athens-bound combinations vying for victory at Aston Le Walls include:
- Mary King with King Solomon III
- Andrew Nicholson (NZL) with both of his short-listed rides, Fenicio and Lord Killinghurst
- Andrew Hoy (AUS) with Mr Pracatan
- Bettina Hoy (GER) with Ringwood Cockatoo
- Dan Jocelyn (NZL) and Silence