Ros Canter maintained her dressage lead in the Blenheim Horse Trials showjumping phase in the CCI4*-S on Izilot DHI with a clear round. There was a change from the dressage podium when third-placed Gemma Tattersall’s Flash Cooley knocked down two rails to drop to 17th, but Tom Jackson held on to second spot with a clear on HH Moonwalk.
Jumping in thick fog, Izilot DHI gave every fence inches to spare, his carefulness contributing to 1.6 time-faults. There were only eight out of the 50 competitors clear inside the time.
“He does not like touching poles,” said Ros. “It’s only his first advanced but I knew he had the scope. I could tell I would get time-faults as soon as I started because there is nowhere you can move along. Next time, I would take a stride out here and there, but it’s a clever track.”
Ros is “realistic” about the cross-country challenge on this eight-year-old.
“Winning would be nice, but it’s not about that for him, it’s about winning an Olympic medal in the future,” she said. “I’m open-minded about tomorrow. It might shock him a bit, but I couldn’t be more delighted so far.”
Tom Jackson described HH Moonwalk’s clear with two time-faults as a “mega round”.
“The time is frustrating but he jumped really well,” he said. “With the fog and atmosphere it was eerie in there, and he went rigid and tight in his body at first, but he’s amazingly talented.”
Nicola Wilson moved up to third place from seventh courtesy of Coolparks Sarco’s clear inside the time, while dressage fourth Dani Evans (Hollywood Dancer) dropped out of contention with three down.
Blenheim Horse Trials: “a proper showjumping track”
Caroline Harris (Miss Pepperpot) produced one of the early clears over this tricky track when the fog was at its thickest. The mare is bred to jump, being by Peppermill, and this effort put them into fourth.
“It’s really twisty, a proper jumping track,” said Caroline. “It’s not the height, more that you have to keep riding, keep thinking, especially to the final double. The fog didn’t affect her in the ring, but she was shaking her head a bit before the start. She is strong and feisty and she likes to go!”
Willa Newton will be hoping to repeat her 2016 victory in this class, this time riding Cock A Doodle Doo, who now lies fifth after a clear inside the time.
“It’s a technical track with lots of half strides so you have to make some decisions,” said Willa, who bought the grey as as project when he was a three-year-old from Dirk Schrade. “It wasn’t planned, but I took a stride out a couple of times when it was tighter and that may have helped me make the time.”
“I felt him go shy when he went in, but he’s such a cool jumper.”
Marching up the ranks at Blenheim Horse Trials
Piggy March moved up from eighth to sixth with a clear (two time-faults) on Cooley Lancer.
“He has loads of power and you can make up so much ground in between the fences but the striding was quite short,” she said. “I tried to make up time by turning tighter rather than speed, but I could have been braver to the last oxer.
Like Ros, Piggy is not putting too much pressure on her eight-year-old ahead of the cross-country day.
“It’s as technical as I’ve seen it for this class,” she said. “He’s a real galloper but very enthusiastic, and he can get really hot and run his race too quickly. I have no idea how it will go until we get going. If he doesn’t frazzled by the whole occasion, we’ll give it a go, but who knows!”
Izzy Taylor’s two rides swapped places after the lower placed Carolines Air KM jumped clear to move up to seventh, while dressage sixth Hartacker hit one to drop to 11th.
“Caroline is eight and very green, she did not want to go into the arena, but she was very good the whole way round,” said Izzy, who sat well when the horse reared before entering the ring. “It’s a big stadium and undulating. Fence two feels like you are jumping into the crowd. It’s a big ask just for her to be here.”
As for the fog – Izzy’s hunting background stood her in good stead.
“They say horses jump best at dusk – perhaps it helped her today,” she smiled.
With the time predicted to be tight on the CCI4*-S cross-country track, there’s all to play for at the top of the leaderboard. Just four penalties (10 seconds) covers the top eight horses.
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