The leaderboard has undergone a complete reshuffle after the cross-country phase of the CCI4*-L class at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials today (21 September).
Piggy French now leads the way on Brookfield Inocent (pictured) after dressage leaders Izzy Taylor and Monkeying Around retired on-course after a couple of run-outs.
“It’s so exciting,” Piggy said of the 10-year-old gelding, owned by John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn. “He’s a class act and I’m so lucky to ride him — we’re having lots of fun. It’s my first three-day on him as I only took on the ride [from Kevin McNab] in the middle of last season, so I didn’t know how he was going to be, but he’s naturally very quick.”
Piggy finished nine seconds inside the 10min 20sec optimum time, one of just nine combinations to do so from 82 starters, and remains on her 25.4 dressage.
Japanese rider Kazuma Tomoto has risen from fourth to second after a polished round on Brookpark Vikenti, finishing on his 25.6 dressage.
“My horse is strong and my trainer William Fox-Pitt told me that it is OK for him to stay strong as long as he is concentrating on the fences in front of him,” explained Kazuma of the 11-year-old, owned by Racing Association Japan. “It wasn’t an easy course as there were lots of narrow fences and forward distances, but my horse was very straight and concentrated on his job.”
Rounding off the top three is Australia’s Kevin McNab riding Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend. They added 1.6 time-faults to their 25.7 dressage.
“I’m not disappointed with our time-faults as he’s still quite a new horse to me, so I can live with being four seconds over the time,” Kevin said of the nine-year-old, owned by Scuderia 1918. “I learned today that I have a ‘real one’ — he’s an exciting horse with a big future.”
Pippa Funnell is in fourth with Billy Walk On — they finished 21 seconds inside the optimum time, to remain on their 28.2 dressage.
“That was really thrilling as he was pure class,” said Pippa. “I was held on course and got a bit flustered as I didn’t want to lose a result on time-faults given that where I was held wasn’t a planned stopping point — that’s why we finished so far inside the time. It was fabulous to have the round I did.”
Piggy French is fifth on her second ride, Castletown Clover, who was another to finish inside the optimum time. They remain on their 28.6 dressage, while the USA’s Katherine Coleman is sixth with Monte Classico on 29.5. Daisy Berkeley is in seventh with Ballinteskin Cooper S (30.2), Alexander Bragg is eighth with King Of The Mill (30.3), Australia’s Sammi Birch is in ninth with Direct Tullyoran Cruise (30.4) and William Fox-Pitt completes the top 10 with Atlantic Vital Spark (30.8).
Take a virtual walk around the 2019 SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials CCI4*-L cross-country course
Riders share their initial reactions to David Evans’ CCI4*-L cross-country track at the 2019 SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials
Will Rawlin, who was in second place after the dressage phase with V.I.P Vinnie, withdrew before the cross-country. A statement on his Facebook page read: “Gutted to say, but after doing such a good test sadly I have made the decision to withdraw V.I.P Vinnie as he is feeling a little under par and I can’t take the risk of running him and something happening. As a team we are thinking long-term and I am just glad it isn’t anything serious. It obviously wasn’t meant to be and I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has helped.”
The showjumping is due to commence at 9am tomorrow morning after the final horse inspection, with the higher placed riders jumping in the afternoon, starting at 3.15pm.
For the full report from the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials, don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound — out Thursday (26 September).