Blenheim first-timer makes dream a reality on UK competition debut to secure overnight CCI4*-L lead

  • Germany’s Malin Hansen-Hotopp made her dream a reality by powering into the lead on day one of dressage at Blenheim Horse Trials with Carlitos Quidditch K.

    This is Malin’s Blenheim Horse Trials debut and today’s outcome made the post-Brexit paperwork, cost and journey worth the effort.

    “My dream was to come to England and ride in competition here,” said Malin, who achieved that and more to sit as overnight leader after day one of dressage at Blenheim Horse Trials.

    “He’s a great horse. It took a long time just to get him stronger and to stay cool, it felt great. I had a good feeling. Most of it was really correct, so I hope we get a good score.”

    Her hope proved true. That score of 24.6 is a huge new international personal best at any level for this impressive 10-year-old gelding, owned by Bodil Ipsen, shaving more than 2% off their previous top mark of 26.9 which they set in the Nations Cup leg at Haras du Pin in August.

    While their test impressed all three judges, with Douglas Hibbert at M and Sue Baxter at E both having the pair in the lead, with Bobby Stevenson at C placing the pair in provisional third, there was a 10% difference in the scores. Ms Baxter was particularly taken with the pair’s test, awarding them 81.89%, with the duo’s mark from Mr Hibbert coming in at 72.92% and Mr Stevenson at 71.46%.

    Malin has produced the Quiwi Dream holsteiner son from a five-year-old and has found a change of warm-up, incorporating much more canter work, key to breaking into those higher marks. Inspiration, too, from watching her coach Anne-Kathrin Pohlmeier’s style of test riding has also proved a turning point.

    “In the spring, she showed me a video of when she rode a six-year-old at the World Championships for young horses and it was so impressive as she was riding every single [move] for a 10,” she said. “It impressed me so much that I’m riding every test so differently to last year – I’m coming in and saying, ‘ok, let’s go!’”

    The pair head into the jumping phases with a strong cross-country record, jumping clear at 21 of their 23 international starts.

    “The cross-country looks amazing, I’m really looking forward to riding that. I think it’s tough, it’s really long, but not too hilly,” said Malin, who was named as reserve for the German eventing World Championship squad with Carlitos Quidditch K. “We’ve done a lot of hilly courses this year – Pratoni, Haras du Pin and some smaller ones – so I really hope we are good.”

    International Blenheim Horse Trials first-timers riding greys head both sections at the end of the first day of dressage, with Irish-based US competitor Gillian Beale King and Richard Ames’ Derena Super Star topping the provisional standings in the young horse CCI4*-S.

    The Blenheim Horse Trials CCI4*-L dressage leaderboard was given a healthy shake-up this afternoon.

    Thursday morning leaders Sarah Bullimore and Corouet are now in provisional second overnight on 27.8, while Malin’s compatriot and fellow eventing World Championship reserves Dirk Schrade and Casino 80 have slotted into provisional third on a score of 29.

    Casino 80, another impressive grey who finished second in the German national championships at Luhmühlen in June, excels in this phase and the pair scored strongly for their flowing trot work.

    “He did a nice test, he was actually more quiet than I expected, which didn’t help me in the test because he is normally better with a little bit of excitement,” said Dirk, who rides the 12-year-old Casillas 2 for owner Freya Rethmeier.

    “I thought he would be more excited in there, but he was pretty calm and he did an almost faultless test so I’m very happy.

    “He has no real weakness. He’s a proper jumper. This will be his first test on hills, but I think he is fit enough.

    “His brain is the best, and his breeding for showjumping means he loves to jump and that’s always useful in three-day eventing.”

    Felicity Collins and her five-star campaigner RSH Contend Or, owned by her mother Vicky Collins and Avrina Milton, cracked the 30 barrier to take provisional fourth on 29.5.

    The pair opted for a last-minute reroute to Blenheim, after pulling up following a run-out at the Holland Cooper Leaf Pit at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, pulling off a “safe test”.

    “Today I really wanted to keep him quiet. He was pretty relaxed in there and he didn’t spook nearly so much today again because I didn’t get after him quite so much,” she said.

    “He was so badly behaved this morning, because I was trying to tell him what to do, so I realised I had to completely back off him. I did that and it worked.

    “He’s done some really nice tests this year and has just been stuck on a 33 to 35. I came out and thought, ‘that could be a 36 for all I know’. It felt nice and I knew I had the changes, but I just had no idea. I think I’m in shock, I’m just really glad they marked him well.”

    Lizzie Baugh and her own homebred B Exclusive (29.6) have dropped down from provisional second at the lunch break to fifth after day one, while Gemma Stevens (née Tattersall) and Flash Cooley, owned by Pru Dawes, are in sixth (29.7).

    Competitors at Blenheim Horse Trials wore black armbands, as a mark of respect to the late Queen Elizabeth II. Flags are flying at half-mast and a two-minute silence was held at noon, followed by a recording of Laura Wright singing the National Anthem.

    Blenheim Horse Trials dressage continues in both classes tomorrow (Friday), with the CCI4*-L resuming at 9am and the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses at 10.30am.

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