Twenty-four-year-old Bella Innes-Ker managed to hold her dressage lead in the CCI3* at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials after the cross-country today (15 September). Riding Carolyn, she jumped round clear inside the time to stay on a score of 24.4.

“I’m so excited and slightly speechless,” smiled Bella. “It’s the first time we’ve gone inside the optimum time at a CCI3*. She dug so deep for me.”


Bella Innes Ker on Carolyn

The top two remain unchanged, with Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street holding second on 26.7.

“He felt great,” said Pippa. “If you go out there and you’re not thinking about getting the time, it doesn’t put you in the right frame of mind. You need to ride forward to make these courses ride well at three-days.”

Oliver Townend and Ulises complete the top three. They also jumped clear inside the time to finish the second phase on 28.

“He’s very fast and has endless gallop, like [half-brother] Armada [on whom Oliver was second at Badminton],” said Oliver. “He made it feel very easy; he could have gone round twice.”

William Fox-Pitt, who first competed at Blenheim in 1990, is very excited about his CCI3* ride here this year, Oratorio II. They sit in fourth on 28.7.

“This felt so easy for him today,” said William of the nine-year-old. “I think very highly of him and he doesn’t know the meaning of the word tired!”

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Australian rider Amanda Ross, who was first reserve for her country’s World Equestrian Games team, is fifth with Koko Popping Candy, while Kitty King and Vendredi Biats are sixth. The top 12 horses all jumped clear inside the time across country.

Kitty’s second ride, Ceylor L A N, who had been sitting in third after the dressage, didn’t seem to lock onto a corner after a table at fence four. After jumping the alternative, Kitty decided to retire.

The final horse inspection will take place tomorrow morning at 8.15am.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest reports from Blenheim via horseandhound.co.uk and don’t miss the full report in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out on 20 September