Favourite leads Bramham four-star long after dresssage: ‘We know he’s spooky but capable’

  • Ros Canter leads the CCI4*-L at the conclusion of the Bramham Horse Trials dressage phase with her own and Alex Moody’s Izilot DHI.

    This pair won the CCI4*-S here last year and start as favourites in the three-day class this time, with Ros saying: “We always wanted to bring him back here. It’s a really good stamina test. He’s done one four-star long, at Boekelo, but he needs some good hills and a long course and a big course to know what we’ve got underneath us.”

    Ros had to manage the 10-year-old carefully through the test as he was very spooky, but the pair were still able to produce some excellent work to score 29. They pulled in the only 10 of the section, given by US judge Bobby Stevenson at M for their entry. Izilot was one of a number of horses to find the A end of the arena challenging.

    Ros said: “He didn’t like the boards at A – I don’t think it was the members’ area particularly, it was the boards at A and my other horse [MHS Seventeen] was a bit the same yesterday. I don’t know what it is because in our warm-up area they have the same boards, but when they get in there they seem to be different.

    “It’s frustrating – it makes him a little difficult to ride. We know the quality of work and there’s more to come, so it’s just pulling it off on the day. But in other times when he’s been that spooky, he’d have struggled to do a test, so it’s good he actually did the test.

    “We’ve just got to keep exposing him to this environment. We know he’s capable. We also know he’s a sharp and spooky horse, so these things are good for him.”

    This morning, Pippa Funnell showed all her skill between the white boards to coax an excellent test from Sarah Ross’s 10-year-old MCS Maverick, a new ride for her this year. They scored 29.3 to sit second at the conclusion of the Bramham Horse Trials dressage in this section.

    New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell is just 0.1 of a penalty behind Pippa in third on his own and Sarah Moffat’s Gambesie.

    “He’s got a really beautiful walk and we’d like the judges to highlight that a little bit more, but it makes that test really easy to ride because there’s a lot of walk in it and you can really ride it, which is fun,” said Jesse.

    The rider took over 12-year-old Gambesie after his previous rider Jonty Evans’s suffered serious head injuries in a fall in 2018 and said his career has been interrupted by soundness issues.

    “He’s just got bad feet so he has lots of hoof supplements. And he used to be turned out at night because I really believe in turnout, but actually he now stays in at night, because he obviously does a lot of walking out in the field and he’s busts his feet up, so that’s been quite a help,” said Jesse.

    “It’s been a really hard road to manage, but so far, so good. He’s had last year back and we thought Bramham was such a great place to come we’d take a chance on a long format event and see what we’ve got.”

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