Two horses who have already been British champions in age classes hold the top spots in the eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S at the conclusion of today’s Blenheim Horse Trials dressage for this class.
Ros Canter sits in first with Izilot DHI, who was the British six-year-old champion in 2019, on a mark of 26.6. Izilot DHI, who belongs to his rider and Alex Moody, has won two CCI3*-Ls this year, and steps up to four-star for the first time this weekend.
“It’s a big ask coming here – we only decided the day of the ballot that we would give it a crack,” said Ros. “He can be quite a sharp character, a little bit of a naughty boy at times, but he’s really matured this year and I haven’t sat on a horse as talented at this one.
“He’s probably working at 60 or 70% of his abilities at the moment and he does a 26, so it’s very exciting for the future.”
Comparing Izilot to her world champion Allstar B, Ros said: “His ability surpasses what Allstar B has – Allstar B has the most incredible brain and kind personality and that’s what carries him to the great heights that he’s achieved. This horse has more physical ability so if I can tame the brain, he could be exciting.”
Ros explained what makes Izilot so special: “He’s just elastic, he’s got a length of stride, but he’s got balance with it. He actually feels like a pure dressage horse at times, with his ability to sit and wait and lighten at the same time. He’s highly intelligent – if he was a human he’d have an extremely high IQ. He picks things up and learns new movements very quickly.
“The challenge then is he obviously learns how to be naughty very quickly as well, so it’s trying to find that balance. He has a fair bit of work at a place like this so that he stays on side with me, but he’s actually got a very good brain for going in and doing a good test.
“From day one, he rode beautifully, but we have had our ups and downs with trying to stay on him, particularly in the winter. We have a window of May to now – he seems to need sunlight to behave himself and sometimes during the winter he has a lot of fun but he isn’t much fun for me.”
Talking about Izilot DHI in the jumping phases, Ros said: “He’s a phenomenal jumper. He’s like a cat in front. I was schooling him the other day and I thought I was running in a bit deep to quite a big upright, probably bigger than he really jumped before, and I thought, ‘Well, he’ll have this one down’ and he doesn’t – he just has that ability to get out of things.
“Across country, he’s brave and very careful – and also very spooky. So, it’s a case of whether he’ll cope with the people here and if there’s an ornament in the wrong place, sometimes he doesn’t see his jump because he’s busy spooking off that. If I’ve got his mind and he’s focused on the jump, he will do his best to jump it.”
Tom Jackson now holds second on last year’s British seven-year-old champion, HH Moonwalk, owned by Jonathan and Lexi Hambro and May-Britt Wedd. The pair are one mark behind Ros and Izilot DHI.
“I’m delighted with the horse – it’s his first time in anything like this at all,” said Tom. “He’s just an eight-year-old and he really was very concentrated on me, and delivered his best work in the arena, which is all we can ask for. He’s an extremely talented horse, but he can be quite sensitive and especially in an environment like that, sometimes shrink into himself. But today he really concentrated and stayed with me.”
Asked to pick some highlights of the test, Tom said: “I was very pleased with his extensions. He’d naturally finds those very easy. I thought he really nailed both changes as well, so I’m over the moon with him.”
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