Emily and the 12-year-old gelding, owned by breeder Philippe Brivois and supported by the Event Horse Owners’ Syndicate, were fourth after dressage on their score of 27.2, rising up the leaderboard to hold the provisional top spot with a perfectly judged cross-country round.
The pair stopped the clock one second inside the optimum time of 10 minutes 28 seconds, strengthening their chances ahead of the final showjumping phase.
“I had a brilliant ride on him. He felt incredible from from start to finish,” said Emily. “I rode everything how I plan to ride it and he responded to that. I was nicely up on my minutes the whole way. He’s such a machine and galloping horse, he’s incredible.
“In between the fences, I really had to just sit there and let him travel at the pace he wanted to travel. I was wondering if he maybe might get a bit tired towards the end but no.”
She added she knew she was “there, or there abouts” on the time, but with Pippa Funnell and Maybach on the same score after dressage (27.2), Emily knew she had to be as close as she could.
“The last thing you want to do is be point something of a second the other side and then have it added to your score. So luckily, it all worked out,” she said.
Blenheim Horse Trials cross-country: how the course is riding
David Evans’ CCI4*-L course is already proving to be influential, with faults spread throughout and time having an impact on the standings.
Pathfinders Heidi Coy and Halenza skipped round to finish four seconds inside the time, but added an expensive 26 penalties for a frangible pin and “flag rule” at the open corner at 15b.
“It was really good, I just had a really unfortunate pin – she didn’t even really hit it, but that’s how it is,” said Heidi.
“They are good things, we need them, they protect our horses but equally, she barely touched it and I didn’t think it should have gone. But do you know what? She was amazing. And she’s only nine so I’m really chuffed with her – and I was inside the time.
“I did go for [the time]. But I eased off a little bit when I had my pin, just to try and nurse her home. She’s quite a lot of blood and she pushed on through and she was amazing.”
Any thoughts that the time would be easy to catch, after watching Heidi blaze round, were soon proved unfounded.
Alex Bragg and Zagreb, one of the sport’s fastest combinations across country, added 1.2 time penalties to their dressage score of 29. Izzy Taylor and Springpower equally looked to be pushing on, but came home 10 seconds over.
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