British Olympic hopeful seizes control in Bramham four-star short dressage

  • Ros Canter seized control of the Defender Bramham Horse Trials dressage in the CCI4*-S today, taking the lead with a rock solid consistent test on Lordships Graffalo. The British Olympic long-listed pair scored 22.5 to lead by 1.3 penalties going into tomorrow’s jumping phases.

    “I thought it was super all the way through actually,” she said. “In the Bicton test he was great, but just occasionally I felt like he was a little bit in front of me, a little bit bright and sparky, he squealed a bit in the warm-up. So I’ve done a little bit more work with him here because I wanted to gauge how much I could afford to do.”

    After taking the Bramham Horse Trials dressage lead, Ros Canter continued: “He’s always been quite a quiet horse but obviously he’s 12 now, he’s really hitting maturity and he feels the bees’ knees, so it’s just making sure we’ve got the right balance of calmness and expression, but I thought today was a good balance.”

    The rider said that although Walter “likes to have his own little fun sometimes”, he is very reliable “if you’ve got the brain in the right place”.

    Michele and Archie Saul’s Lordships Graffalo is also entered for the CCI4*-S at Luhmühlen Horse Trials next week and Ros is still undecided on which event he will run at – or perhaps is playing her cards close to her chest in terms of revealing that publicly – but she said he will almost certainly at least showjump here at Bramham.

    The other British Olympic long-listed horse here, Kitty King’s ride Vendredi Biats (owned by Diana Bown, Samantha Wilson, Sally Lloyd-Baker and John Eyre), slotted into fifth on a score of 25.2, his marks only marred by a blip in the first flying change.

    “He’s a bit fresh – he missed his run at Bicton because he’d had pus in the foot so he had a week off. So he’s lacked a bit of work coming into Bramham and it comes out in his changes when he’s fresh,” said Kitty. “That’s fine but it’s a shame because he can do some really stunning work. But I was very happy with how he went overall – his frame felt nice and he was good in his mouth.”

    Kitty has “Froggy” entered at Luhmühlen next week, but plans to run him here at Bramham.

    Other Olympic contenders on form

    Cheshire-based Chinese rider Alex Hua Tian slotted into second in this Defender-sponsored class just before the lunchbreak with a score of 23.8 on his own 15-year-old Jilsonne Van Bareelhof.

    Alex said: “He can be very hot and he’s a massive mover. He’s very talented in all three phases but can get a bit extra in everything he does, so it’s about keeping him calm and relaxed enough to his best.

    “Today he did that – it wasn’t perfect but with horses like that you almost never get a totally clean test because you’re always managing the length of stride and expression. But when you’re on something like ‘Chops’ in there and they’re relaxed, it’s a pretty sweet feeling.”

    This will be Jilsonne Van Bareelhof’s final run before Paris and he is likely to be Alex’s ride there, although he plans to have two other horses qualified.

    Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto and Vinci De La Vigne JRA also put in a strong performance today on the way to hopefully a trip to the Olympics, scoring 24.5 for third overnight.

    “He’s not a super mover – he’s no Valegro – but he’s very professional,” said Kazuma, who is based with William Fox-Pitt. “He can be lazy at home, but at events he knows his job and he enjoys the atmosphere – it doesn’t make him nervous or tense.”

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