Oliver Townend (pictured), who is making his British senior squad debut and is the youngest member of the squad, produced a personal best performance on Topping to head the leader board at the end of this morning’s dressage session, while British riders filled all five top spots.
Townend, who is just 22, rode an immaculate test to lead Britain’s European challenge on a score of 45.2pen. Daisy Dick, riding the fabulous looking Spring Along is hot on his heels two penalties behind, but had a very nervous moment after her test.
It looked touch-and-go as to whether or not the Reading-based rider might be disqualified when a dispute arose about the Mexican noseband she was using. A huge sigh of relief and lots of very red faces later, she was cleared of any possible wrong-doing.
Kitty Boggis looked impressive on Five Boys, and currently sits in third place. It hasn’t been all smooth-running for the combination this year in spite of their brilliant Badminton debut — they had a horse fall across country at Barbury Castle in June. This is their Blenheim debut, as well as Kitty’s senior squad debut, and if her debuts to date are anything to go by, she will be one to watch this weekend.
Jeanette Brakewell, on the hugely experienced Over to You and Polly Stockton on Tom Quigley lie in fourth and fifth place. Polly Jackson on Two for Joy — who was fourth here last year — and Matthew Wright on the flashy Park Pilot both seemed to have more of a job containing their horses’ ebullience, but rode respectable tests to finish the morning in the top 10.
There is likely to be drama this afternoon — favourite for the European title, Bettina Hoy on Ringwood Cockatoo, will ride shortly after lunch, while leading British riders William Fox-Pitt and Pippa Funnell will perform later in the afternoon.
Sixty-eight riders from a total of 18 nations, including 10 teams came forward for the competition, although one Belgian horse was failed at the first vet’s inspection yesterday.
Blenheim results – Thursday lunchtime
1. Topping (Oliver Townend) 45.2
2. Spring Along (Daisy Dick 47.2
3. Five Boys (Kitty Boggis) 49.4
4. Over To You (Jeanette Brakewell) 50.2
5. Tom Quigley (Polly Stockton) 52.6