Since its inception in 2009, the eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S (formerly CIC3*) competition at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials has, unsurprisingly, thrown up some horses who have gone on to achieve great things in the eventing world.
Ahead of this week’s Blenheim (19-22 September), we take a look back at the 10 previous winners, what they went on to do and where they are now…
2009 — Flying Machine
Partnered by Piggy French, Flying Machine was the inaugural winner of this competition. Aged eight at the time, the gelding by Cult Hero jumped a double clear, bar one showjumping time-fault to top the class, beating the late, great Avebury and Andrew Nicholson into second place. Flying Machine went on to finish fourth in the CCI4* (now five-star) at Luhmühlen in 2011 before he was taken on by Annie Keir, the daughter of one of his co-owners, Belinda Keir. Annie and ‘Fly’ enjoyed competing at the lower levels, including finishing second in the CCIJ* at Tattersalls in 2014.
2010 — NZB Land Vision
This big grey took the spoils in 2010 aged nine, ridden by Sir Mark Todd, beating Treason and Sarah Cohen into second and Zara Tindall and High Kingdom into seventh. The following spring, ‘Ben’ and Mark won Badminton, after which he only did a few events due to being plagued by injury. Ben was put down on 17 March 2018 when he suffered complications after colic surgery. Mark told H&H at the time: “He was definitely the best horse I’d had since Charisma”.
2011 — Oslo
Aged nine at the time, Oslo and William Fox-Pitt ran away with the competition in 2011, beating Sarah Cohen and Treason into second by over four penalties. Just a few weeks later, Oslo went on to win the CCI5* at Pau and was a potential ride for William at the London Olympics, but a foreleg suspensory ligament injury ruled him out of contention. He returned to competition, completing Badminton in 2013, but then went on to compete in just one-day events until the announcement of his retirement in June 2017. But for the past two seasons, the gelding by Lando has been seen back out on the eventing circuit, jumping around BE100 and open novice under-18 classes, piloted by Daisy Dollar.
2012 — Quimbo
This stunning Spanish-bred gelding, beat Bay My Hero and William Fox-Pitt into second place in 2012. One month later, the nine-year-old won Bokelo CCI4*-L and then the CCI5* at Kentucky the following spring. He was retired from competition in 2015 and went to live out his days in New Zealand, where he is being ridden by Charlie Sellar, daughter of owner Deborah.
2013 — Fernhill Pimms
This gelding, by ARD VDL Douglas, owned by Catherine Witt and Carol Gee, gave William Fox-Pitt his second title in this class in 2013, aged nine. Chris Burton and Graf Liberty finished second, while Mark Todd and Leonidas II were third. Since then, ‘Pimms’ finished fifth in the CCI4*-L at Bramham and was 10th at Burghley both in 2015. After William’s fall at Le Lion d’Angers and an extended break, Pimms returned to competition in 2017, and the pair completed four CCI4*-S competitions last season.
2014 — Faerie Dianimo
This diminutive grey mare won under Jonelle Price in 2014, when Andrew Nicholson and Cillnabradden Evo were second and Paul Tapner and Indian Mill finished third. Since then, ‘Maggie’ has gone on to achieve some incredible results. These include fourth at Pau’s CCI5* in the weeks after her Blenheim victory, second at Luhmühlen CCI5* in 2015, 17th at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and 10th in the CCI5* at Pau in 2017, just a few weeks after Jonelle returned to competition after giving birth. Most recently, Maggie won the CCI5* at Luhmühlen in 2018.
2015 — Cloud Dancer II
Jonelle Price won this class for a second year in a row in 2015, this time on The Marley and Me Syndicate’s Cloud Dancer II. The big-moving son of San Remo led the dressage by over six marks from eventual second-placed Spes Addit Or and Astier Nicolas. ‘Marley’, now 12-years-old, went on to finish fourth and third in the Event Rider Masters classes at Blair Castle and Blenheim respectively in 2016. In 2018 Marley consolidated his form, winning three open intermediate classes on the bounce mid-season before finishing 10th in the Blair Castle ERM. This year he has won a further three open intermediates.
2016 — Caja 20
This chestnut mare became the third eight-year-old to win this title. Ridden by Willa Newton, Caja 20 beat Laura Collett and Mr Bass into second and Andrew Nicholson and Swallow Springs into third in 2016. Since then, Caja and Willa have finished third in the CCI4*-L at Tattersalls in 2017, which was enough to see them long listed for the European Championships at Strzegom, and more recently jumped double clear in the CCI4*-S at Millstreet in August 2018.
2017 — Cooley Lands
In one of the closest finishes possible, Chris Burton and Cooley Lands clinched victory from Brookpark Vikenti and Kazuma Tomoto in 2017 by just 0.1 penalty. Owned by Kate Walls, ‘Cyril’ was the only horse to finish on his dressage score in this class that year. The now 11-year-old by Cavalier Land then went on to finish eighth in the CCI4*-L at Boekelo and was then selected to travel to Tryon to compete with Chris at the World Equestrian Games. This year, he finished third at Badminton with Chris and more recently jumped double clear with owner Kate in the CCI4*-S at Blair Castle.
2018 — London 52
This now 10-year-old gelding has enjoyed a phenomenal career thus far. In 2018 he won this class by almost two penalties, ahead of Izzy Taylor and Springpower. He then went on to finish second in Boekelo’s CCI4*-L four weeks later. In 2019 London and Laura have finished second at Belton and Burnham Market’s CCI4*-S classes and won the CCI4*-S at Chatsworth. These results were enough to get them onto the British European Championship squad that competed in Luhmühlen last month.
Keep up-to-date with the competition at Blenheim this week via horseandhound.co.uk and don’t miss the full report in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out on 20 September