Badminton winner takes Bicton five-star lead, plus mare known as ‘Miss Health And Safety’ shines

  • Piggy March has taken the lead in the Chedington Bicton Horse Trials dressage for this week’s five-star competition.

    Riding Trevor Dickens’ 2019 Badminton Horse Trials winner Vanir Kamira, Piggy nailed a mark of 25.5 – she now sits just 0.1 of a penalty ahead of the final rider of the third session, Will Rawlin on VIP Vinnie.

    “With her, the clear round is the most important thing – having her mind in the right place,” said Piggy, crediting her groom Amy Phillips, who does a lot of lungeing with Vanir Kamira to help her relax.

    “We just try to sort of bore her. She is what she is – I joke saying I’m going to make her into Valegro or something, but she’s not built for it, she doesn’t find it easy. She’s a definite mare – there’s that fine line of it being okay and not. She can feel marey and if she’s happy and she smiles, her movements are up to two marks anyway.

    “It’s just nice to be doing something – she’s 16 years old, she was 14 when she last ran at Burghley and she’s dreadful at one days. You can’t just pick her up and go and do a dressage test. It takes the last month of trying to get her back into shape, mentally and physically, to be able to get on 10 minutes before, put pressure on, pick her up and her believe and still trust and go and do her best.”

    Piggy says “Tilly” knows Badminton and Burghley, but recognised the Bicton Horse Trials dressage is a big occasion, too.

    “I think even just going on the grass – I hadn’t done that all week, because she has delicate feet. So I think she sort of thought, ‘Oh, this is something new and this is an occasion’. You wouldn’t pick her out as a horse like [Oliver Townend’s Olympic gold medallist] Ballaghmor Class and she’s a pain in the butt all the time, but her heart is what a good mare is all about.”

    The rider before Piggy, Ros Canter, scored 27.1, which now puts her fifth, behind the lunchtime leader Tim Price (Ringwood Sky Boy) in third and William Fox-Pitt (Oratorio II) in fourth.

    Ros’s ride this week is Kate James and Annie Makin’s five-star debutante Pencos Crown Jewel.

    “I’m absolutely over the moon with her – this is not really her phase,” said Ros, who also spoke about the mare on this week’s Horse & Hound Podcast. “I’ve had to change the way I train her to not train her really. I haven’t practised the test, so I was quite nervous I was going to go the wrong way because I like to practise.

    “She just likes hacking on a long rein, to put it simply, and the excitedness you saw here is actually nervousness. She’s actually a lazy horse, but she’s very out of her comfort zone with people. She likes to keep herself to herself in the stable. People around make her suspicious.

    “I’ve just found that hacking on a long rein and keeping her really happy and relaxed is her way. She’s so honest that she’ll do everything you ask her if she’s in the right frame of mind.

    “We call her ‘Miss Health and Safety’ at home – she’s just a suspicious person and she wants to make sure everything’s okay before she’s going to do something.”

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