Tight at the top: young rider holds Blenheim Horse Trials CCI4*-L overnight lead with less than a penalty separating top two

  • Britain’s Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir have held onto the top spot in Blenheim Horse Trials’ CCI4*-L to head the overnight leaderboard after the first day of dressage (16 September).

    The top three combinations from this morning’s session have all retained their positions in the competitive feature class. It’s tight at the top, with less than a single fence separating first to seventh place.

    Yasmin, 24, and the Selle Francais gelding (Nouma D’Auzay x Livarot) are in provisional first place on their score of 25.2 penalties, while Piggy March and Brookfield Quality are just 0.6 of a penalty behind in second. Emily King and Valmy Biats hold third on 27.2.

    Ireland’s Susie Berry and John The Bull, owned by Caroline Berry and Helen Caton, produced the best test of the afternoon, slotting into provisional fourth with a new four-star personal best as a combination of 27.9. This is the same score as Izzy Taylor and the aptly named Springpower, runners-up here in the young horse CCI4*-S in 2018, with Susie creeping ahead on collectives. Susie is also the highest-placed international competitor at this stage.

    Reigning world champion Ros Canter completes the top six after day one, with Christopher Makin’s 10-year-old gelding Rehy Royal Diamond (ARS Vivendi x Diamond Lad) on 28.7.

    Blenheim Horse Trials dressage: ‘Raw talent and raw ability’

    Tokyo Olympic team gold medallist Oliver Townend started his 2021 Blenheim campaign aboard John Peace’s 10-year-old gelding, Lukas. The Irish sport horse gelding is a new ride for Oliver, who explained it was the horse’s “raw talent and raw ability” that made him want to take on the ride.

    “It’s not about Blenheim this time with him at all,” said Oliver, who is in provisional 12th overnight on a score of 31.8. “It’s about being qualified to go to a big event next year and have a winter’s work with him.

    “We need time together, and he needs to improve on lots of things. But at the same time, I feel that he’s got the potential, so we just need a winter together, playing and training and just working on the weaknesses.”

    Blenheim is the combination’s fourth event together and Oliver added he has mostly been away since the horse arrived in his yard.

    “I might have ridden him a dozen times at home absolutely max,” he said. “I like his pedigree, he’s 73% thoroughbred. I think everything’s there naturally, it just needs more work.”

    Britain’s Georgia Bartlett, 20, and Spano De Nazca are the highest placed Blenheim first-timers at this stage. The pair were last to go on the opening day, scoring 32.1 for 14th place overnight.

    The combination, who were part of the silver medal British team at back-to-back junior European Championships in 2018 and 2019, are making their CCI4*-L debut this week.

    “He was my first horse coming off ponies and we’ve just developed such a strong partnership,” said Georgia, who spent six weeks out the saddle after breaking her arm in an accident in the start box in the spring.

    “This is only his second event of the season. We both didn’t have a great start to the year, with me breaking my arm and then he had a slight injury so getting here in itself has been just amazing.”

    The remaining 45 combinations in the CCI4*-L will start between the white boards tomorrow (Friday, 17 September), with Matt Heath and Ballycoog Guinness first to go at 9am.

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