Oliver Townend takes early Bicton lead on ‘talented but tricky’ horse, plus Zara Tindall performs guinea pig test

  • Oliver Townend has taken an early lead in the Chedington Bicton Horse Trials dressage.

    The Olympic gold medallist was second into the arena on Tom Joule’s 16-year-old experienced MHS King Joules in the five-star event and scored 28.1.

    The pair’s otherwise consistent marks only dropped significantly when they had a mistake in the medium canter across the diagonal and Oliver had a big grin on his face as he finished his test. Highlights included a nine from Andrew Bennie at C for the mid-test halt.

    “I’m happy with him – there’s no pressure on him, he’s an old horse now and we all know that he’s very talented but we also all know he’s very tricky in all three phases, but we respect him and love him for who he is and work with him every day with the quirks,” said Oliver.

    Speaking about the spook in the canter diagonal, Oliver added: “That’s him and he’s getting more like that as he gets older, unfortunately, which is probably not the right way to go. But last time out at the level he was sixth in Pau [2020] so while he’s sound, healthy and definitely wanting to do it – perhaps too much sometimes – we’ll keep going with him.”

    Pathfinder David Doel holds second on 32.2 with Gillian Jonas’s Galileo Nieuwmoed, who had a late first flying change but otherwise produced steady work. David made an error of course on the final centre line, halting straight from canter rather than showing the required trot first, and had to repeat this movement.

    Pippa Funnell was due to be the fourth rider into the arena this morning, on Majas Hope, but will now perform just before the lunch break as the horse needs the attention of the farrier.

    Zara Tindall performed the guinea pig test this morning on Class Affair. The pair put in some smart trot work, though the chestnut looked a little tense in the canter.

    Bicton Horse Trials dressage guinea pigs Zara Tindall and Class Affair

    Bicton Horse Trials five-star guinea pigs Zara Tindall and Class Affair. Credit: Nico Morgan

    The Bicton Horse Trials dressage all takes place today ahead of tomorrow’s cross-country phase, over a course designed by Mark Phillips, and Sunday’s showjumping.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...