An Olympic medallist and an Olympic hopeful head Bramham four-star short dressage

  • Tom McEwen was the first rider into the Bramham Horse Trials dressage arena for the Defender CCI4*-S this morning and he blasted into the lead with MHS Brown Jack – and then proceeded to hold pole position throughout a full day of action.

    Tom scored 28.7 with Fred and Penny Barker’s nine-year-old to sit 3.7 marks ahead at the conclusion of the phase.

    “I’m delighted with Jack – he’s got better and better,” said double Olympic medallist Tom. “It really helped him to go to Bicton a couple of weeks ago, doing the same test, having a run. We’ve found a real way with him now and he’s enjoying it and relaxing into it.”

    The horse finished eighth in this class last year and the original aim was to return for the long format this time.

    “But he wasn’t quite ready – he didn’t quite have the dressage at the beginning of the year and then the wet weather,” said Tom. “He’s a big horse and not just physically but in his brain he’s still quite youthful and hasn’t really seen the world and panicked about things he really doesn’t need to panic about. So for him it’s just time and education.”

    Tom was full of praise for the organisation at Bramham.

    “Bramham do go above and beyond in their preparations for horses,” he said. “There’s no making a big show out of it, but I’ve ridden this morning at 6.30am and they’re already out there [working on the ground] and I’ve been walking the course at 7pm and they’re still watering. Not much is said but it’s hugely appreciated and it’s a mega show.”

    Australia’s Bill Levett piloted his own and Elisabeth Murdoch’s Sligo Candy Cane into second on 32.4 towards the end of this second Bramham Horse Trials dressage day.

    “I’m hoping to get selected for Aachen if I can have a good run here – that’s been the goal all year to try and get selected for Aachen and then get him into some bigger competitions,” said Bill, saying the spacious grass arena and strong cross-country here would get the horse “in the groove” for the German supershow.

    Bill bought the now 10-year-old Sligo Candy Cane from Ireland’s Sarah Ennis as a young horse.

    “I’ve taken him slowly, but the goal was Paris because I’ve never been to the Olympics,” he said. “I’m sort of a bit outside the favourites [for the Australian team], but it’ll be a lot of fun trying to stake my claim over the next eight months or so with this horse. He’s a super careful show jumper  – probably the best showjumping event horse I’ve ever ridden.”

    Yesterday’s leaders Ros Canter and MHS Seventeen now sit third and Kirsty Chabert has slotted into fourth with her own and The Daisy Chain Syndicate’s Opposition Loire, who was third in the CCI4*-L here last year.

    Mollie Summerland is now fifth equal on her own Paula Cloke and Mark Johns’ Flow 7, alongside Stephen Heal and Quidam De Lux, who performed yesterday.

    Mollie said: “He’s still so green. He’s nine but he didn’t start eventing til he was seven. So he’s stepped up the levels really quickly and I’m not expecting anything from him this week. He’s just here to learn about life and hopefully next year we’ll be really excited for him. This year’s just about educating him.”

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