Piggy March inches closer to Blenheim CCI4*-S victory with tiny ‘angelic’ stallion

  • Piggy March has retained her CCI4*-S dressage lead after showjumping clear at Blenheim Horse Trials on Halo in the class for eight- and nine-year-olds. She will therefore set out last over tomorrow’s cross-country track, which runs in reverse order.

    Time was a factor over this showjumping track. Although over a third of the field (26) jumped clear, 11 had time-faults, but no such worries for the bold-jumping Halo.

    “He’s a super jumper, but he’s a really brave horse so he can easily have rails,” said Piggy. “He wants to do the right thing and be careful, but he’s so bold. It’s a big occasion here and he just took it; he was fabulously easy to ride. He probably enjoys showing off.”

    Piggy, fresh from her Burghley success two weeks previously, said that Jayne McGivern’s  “tiny” stallion is ticking every box so far.

    “He is angelic, but definitely a boy, so it’s a balancing act,” she said. “He’s a pleasure to ride, he’s beautiful and such fun. If there were more of him in the world, it would be a lovely place. His temperament is to die for.

    “I haven’t had enough experience with stallions to compare, and it’s a whole new world, having to be one step ahead in every situation and worrying about everyone else.”

    Halo has already won two internationals at three-star, and although this is the horse’s four-star debut, Piggy believes the course to be “well within his capabilities”.

    “It’s a good track, but anything could happen,” added Piggy, who was runner-up in this class last year on Cooley Lancer. “It’s the crowds, the whole occasion for these young horses, running up and down hills. It’s about giving him a good experience, staying focused, so we know what we have for the future.”

    Blenheim Horse Trials showjumping: bucking for fun

    The nine-year-old has a three-penalty lead over Heads Up (Hayden Hankey), who also held his runner-up spot on 24.3 with a copybook clear – bar an exuberant buck midway round.

    “He was just having fun!” said Hayden, who part-owns the eight-year-old with Catherine Witt. “He’s a proper horse and I’m ultra proud of him. I did enough warm up so he was physically warm and soft, but with the showjumping I like to let the fences do the job. He’s naturally a very good jumper as long as I don’t take away his thinking – [you can’t] domineer him too much.

    “It was a very good track, it walked difficult so I walked it three times so I could work out where we could cut an inside turn so I could keep pressing into a fence which suits him better.”

    Sarah Bullimore moved up a couple of places to third despite adding 0.4 of a time-fault on Evita AP for 28.2. Fourth after dressage Derena Super Star (Gillian Beale King) had a round to forget with four down, dropping 44 places. Dressage fifth Emily King was unlucky to lower the first, as her ride Imposant cleared every other fence with inches to spare. She still lies in sixth ahead of cross-country on 29.2.

    Ups and downs on the leaderboard

    Another leading rider to slide was Selina Milnes, who plummeted down to 21st from sixth after clattering the triple bar. Four faults covered fifth to 28th after dressage, so even time-faults proved very expensive in this group.

    Meanwhile, Caroline Powell moved in the other direction on Greenacres Special Cavalier, her clear round climbing from ninth to fifth ahead of cross-country. The nine-year-old mare by Special Cavalier has been given time to mature and find her balance as she’s conformationally long.

    “She’s a big unit – she looks like she could have triplets in there!” said Caroline. “I’m lucky the owners [Chris Mann] have given her time and she’s suddenly come into herself this year. She doesn’t look like the ideal event horse – but what is the ideal event horse anyway? One that does the job.

    “I hope she could go all the way. She just loves the jumping – she actually naps to get into the arena.”

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