High jinks, anxious waits and a red beret: all the action from the first horse inspection at Blenheim Horse Trials

  • One horse was held at the first CCI4*-L trot-up today (15 September), with all 90 eventually accepted to go forwards to the dressage at Blenheim Horse Trials.

    Rider Michelle Williamson faced a nervous wait when the 16-year-old grey My Man Mickie, owned by Sarah Francis, was sent to the holding box by the ground jury of Seppo Laine, Judy Hancock and Jane Tolley, and FEI veterinary delegate Liam Kearns. The Primo Valentino gelding was later re-presented and given the nod of approval.

    Gold Nugget, ridden by Andrew Dowes and presented by Susie Berry, was asked to trot again after a spicy entrance. The Irish-bred thoroughbred gelding put in a couple of bucks before proceeding down the runway for a second time. Susie gave him confidence with a pat and a whisper of “it’s alright” and he settled on the return, waved through by the ground jury.

    The trot-up took place on the sun-bathed south lawn in front of the impressive facade of Blenheim Palace. While the inspection was not open to the public, there was a small stand for owners and connections which created a three-day atmosphere at the event, organised by the Jockey Club for the first time this year.

    A number of horses picked up on the sense of occasion – Pippa Funnell’s toes had a close shave with a sharp looking Maybach, who sailed through the inspection. Fiona Kashel’s beautifully turned-out WSF Carthago was another on his toes. Izzy Taylor’s ride Springpower, runner-up in the young horse CCI4*-S in 2018 and seventh in 2017, looked keen to get going as did Ryuzo Kitajima’s Feroza Nieuwmoed and Althea Bleakman’s Granncord.

    There have been several high-profile withdrawals since the entries list was published, and ahead of the first trot-up. Oliver Townend’s ride Davinci will not start, however Oliver still has two other rides in this class in the form of Swallow Springs and Lukas. William Fox-Pitt (Grafennacht) and Sarah Bullimore (Conpierre), who would both have been expected to be among the mix for top places, have also withdrawn. Ben Way (Cooley Eno), Wizz Leyland (Cruise The Town), Rebecca Gibbs (De Beers Dilletante), Paul Whitehead (Cooley Wingman) and Richard Jones (Kilballyboy Bob) complete the list of pre-event withdrawals.

    Blenheim Horse Trials: first trot-up style

    Metallic trainers, flowing lines and classic elegance were the main fashion trends at the first trot-up at Blenheim, with floaty culotte-style jump-suits and trousers popular.

    French rider Gaspard Maksud secured the best dressed prize, sponsored by Hi Ho Silver, with his red beret and sharp blue suit. Georgia Bartlett took the ladies’ prize with her elegantly cut pink coat, paired with a straw fedora topped with a feather. Emily King’s ride Valmy Biats won the award for best turned out horse.

    Dressage for both the CCI4*-L and the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses starts at 9am tomorrow.

    Blenheim Horse Trials trot-up Gaspard Maksud

    Gaspard Maksud’s sharp blue suit and red beret were a winner in the fashion awards.

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