At the end of the first phase, the top three placings in Blenheim Horse Trial’s CCI3* are unchanged from the first day’s dressage.
Germany’s Bettina Hoy still holds a commanding lead after a beautiful test on Seigneur Medicott, a former Gatcombe novice champion owned by Gerd-Hermann Horst. They lie more than six penalties ahead of their nearest rival on a score of 32.9 penalties.
“He’s a beautiful mover and a beautiful horse. He really tries to concentrate and is lovely to ride,” said Bettina of the horse, who never blinked in the breezy conditions.
Harry Meade lies second on 39.6 on Di Davies, Irene Graham and Anita Dalton’s Orlando, a ride he took over earlier this year from Izzy Taylor. The USA’s Hannah Sue Burnett holds third on 41.7 on her seasoned campaigner Harbour Pilot.
Lying fourth, just 0.2 of a penalty behind her, is Ibby Macpherson, who delivered a composed test in the teeth of a rain squall on Ballingowan Diamond. The horse has been rerouted after suffering a tack problem early on the cross-country at Burghley last week.
Price set for another Blenheim win
Blenheim’s young horse CIC winner for the past two years, New Zealand’s Jonelle Price, holds the lead after dressage on the eight-year-old mare Ascona M, making her three-star debut. But positions are tight with only two penalties separating the top five.
Jonelle professed herself surprised: “It’s a bit unexpected to be in the lead. Ascona is really quality but a bit green and inexperienced and coming through the grades.”
Thus far she’s taken the mare, by Holstein stallion Cassaro, steadily across country; to win this weekend she will need to step up the pace.
“I really came here to set her up for next year. I feel I’ve got a little bit of a mountain to climb but I’ll have a cut at it!” said Jonelle.
Snapping at her heels, 0.6 of a penalty behind her on a score of 35.2, and also making his three-star debut, is MGH Grafton Street with Pippa Funnell, a horse bought for her last year from Andrew Nicholson by Jonathan and Jane Clarke.
“He is one I am excited about for the future and I brought him here with the future in mind,” said Pippa. “It’s such great education for him here — I won’t run him flat to the boards across country but will ride how he feels. He’s a good jumper, and I was delighted with his dressage; he’s got a lovely brain and three good paces.”
Lying third on 36.1 is Oliver Townend on Angela Hyslop’s Cooley SRS. A former CCI3* winner at Ballindenisk, and 29th in this class here last year, the horse has failed to complete its last two CCI3*s.
Fourth is France’s Sidney Dufresne, competing for the first time on British soil since the same class at Blenheim last year where he came fourth on the same ride, Selle Français stallion Tresor Mail.
ERM reaches its finale
Beginning bright and early tomorrow morning is the sixth and final leg of the Event Riders Masters (ERM) series launched this year. Besides £16,000 to the winner, and prize money to 10th place as usual, a further £30,000 awaits the rider who tops the series on points.
The 40-strong start list oozes international talent, including 14 four-star winners and five Olympic gold medallists, and a very classy list of horses. Current points leader is Paul Tapner, with Gemma Tattersall in second, but the winner of the past two legs is Oliver Townend who’s competing here too aboard Cillnabradden Evo.
Jonelle Price is another rider who might snatch the title, and is competing her Blenheim CIC winner of last year, Cloud Dancer II.
Full report from Blenheim in H&H next week, out Thursday, 15 September.