Three British riders are tightly grouped at the top of the Equi-Trek CCI4*-L class at Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials after dressage.
Pippa Funnell, who leads with Billy Walk On, Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) and Gemma Tattersall (Jalapeno III) all sit within 0.3 of a penalty; Pippa scored 26.6 on Barbara and Nicholas Walkinshaw’s 10-year-old, while Kitty is on 26.8 and Gemma is the tiniest fraction behind on 26.9 on Chris and Lisa Stone’s chestnut mare Jalapeno III, until this season the ride of Belgium’s Karin Donckers.
Pippa said: “The nice thing is that he is still developing; he still isn’t the finished article. He’s got a good brain, but I think I nearly overdid the work outside, just by about five minutes. His trot work was good, but in the canter I was carrying him slightly.”
Both Pippa and Kitty are looking to make amends for disappointing runs at Badminton.
Kitty said: “He tried really hard and produced some lovely work. He can be a monkey, and last year here he whipped around on the centre line when he saw the judge’s car. He can be sharp and cheeky, so I am pleased that he stayed with me and behaved this time.”
Gemma, who also took the lead in the Land Rover CCI4*-S when last to go of the day on Quicklook V, said: “I don’t know very Jalapeno III very well yet, but we got together today for the first time and worked as a team, and that gave me loads of confidence to go in there and have fun with Pebbles [Quicklook V].”
Gemma and the 14-year-old mare Quicklook V, on whom she represented Team GBR at the 2016 Olympics, scored 21.6 to take top spot in the CCI4*-S from Laura Collett and Dacapo (23.3).
She said: “She loves it, which is rare for an event horse, but she genuinely loves showing off. I did think when the rain started this afternoon, ‘I wonder whether she will do her normal prancing’, because she actually hates the rain. She’s a complete princess and she normally likes sunshine and a beautiful surface.
“Fingers crossed it won’t rain too much for tomorrow, and we can carry on and run her, and it will be all good.”
Laura and Dacapo retired across country at Tattersalls last weekend, and Laura said: “That felt really nice. All last week [at Tattersalls] he just wasn’t on the ball.
“I haven’t schooled him since – just tried to wake him up. That’s the key to him – making sure he is awake. Today I felt I could ride how I wanted to ride.”
Emily King and Brookleigh are third with 23.6, while Ireland’s Aoife Clark lies fourth with 24.2 aboard Fernhill Adventure.
Aoife, who gave birth to her and husband Simon’s first child, Patrick, five weeks ago, said: “I feel great, and so did the horse. I made a couple of little mistakes, but overall I am thrilled. We were probably a little bit rusty outside – I needed Ian [Woodhead, the Irish team dressage trainer] to get me into a test outline – but ‘Biscuit’ really held it for me in there.”
‘I really enjoyed it, it wasn’t as if I was pushing myself to do it; it was fun’
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Richard Coney and Kananaskis are in pole position in the British Horse Feeds CCI4*-L for under-25s with the only sub-30 score – 29.8. Second are Yasmin Ingham and Sandman 7 with 30.1, while Sam Ecroyd is third with Davinci III.
Sam said: “It’s getting better all the time – he used to struggle with the consistency, but each test feels better than the last one.”
Ian Stark’s cross-country tracks are formidable, with lots of opportunities for errors. The ground, good to firm earlier in the week, will appreciate tonight’s rain and it should produce perfect going.
Stay up to date with the latest news from Bramham here on Horseandhound.co.uk across the weekend, and don’t miss further analysis and insight into where the classes were won and lost in next Thursday’s Horse & Hound magazine (13 June).