‘He was sharp — but I prefer that, it gives him presence’: Daisy Berkeley takes Blair lead

Daisy Berkeley leads the CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Blair Castle Horse Trials after the culmination of the dressage today (Friday, 23 August).

The British Olympian put in an assured test on the 10-year-old Ballinteskin Cooper S, who is owned by Roxana Janet White and Mary Scott-Gall, as well as Daisy and her mother Caroline. The pair scored 30.4, which puts them just 0.1 of a penalty ahead of the chasing pack.

“I’m really pleased — although I got a fly in my eye after the half pirouette and when I tried to get it out, he jogged,” said Daisy. “But I would rather have him a bit sharp than lazy. It’s no fun when they are lazy and he has more presence when he’s sharp.”

Daisy rode Ballinteskin Cooper S here last year, running slowly across country to be sure of a qualification, but had not been at the venue since 2011 before that.

“I love Blair — the ground is amazing and the hills are always testing,” she said. “It’s like trotting on one of those waxy surfaces.”

France’s Astier Nicolas (Babylon De Gamma) and Britain’s Sam Ecroyd (Davinci III) sit in joint second behind Daisy, having both scored 30.5.

The showjumping for this class takes place tomorrow, with the cross-country on Sunday.

Astier also leads the CCI3*-S, riding SARL Ecurie Jean Louis Bouchard’s Lumberton, who the rider described as “very cool bloke – very laidback in all three phases”.

Chandler heads four-star long

Emilie Chandler heads the small CCI4*-L, which has just nine starters, riding Maria Doel’s Gortfadda Diamond, another 10-year-old. The pair scored 31.8.

She said: “He is a really classy horse who has just stepped up to this level this season. The loudspeaker crackled really loudly during our test, which unsettled us both, but I’m thrilled to be in the lead, even if it wasn’t our best test.”

Overnight leader Emma Murray held her lead through the final session of CCI2*-L this morning, finishing the day as the only international competitor in any class to have broken the 30-barrier after she scored 28.6 yesterday on her husband Shaun’s Wainthropp. The Aberdeenshire rider took over the horse when Shaun broken his collarbone in May.

“Blair is my favourite event so I thought we’d come here and have a nice time,” said Emma. “She’s good at dressage – we are going to the British Dressage National Championships at Stoneleigh at elementary level in two weeks’ time – but I didn’t expect to be out in front.”

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All the competitors in the “long” classes run across country tomorrow and showjump on Sunday.

More news from Blair on horseandhound.co.uk over the weekend, plus full report in next week’s magazine (dated 29 August).