Clark Montgomery wins Blenheim: two Brits in top five

  • Clark Montgomery became the second American (after Kim Severson in 2001 on Winsome Adante) to win Blenheim International Horse Trials CCI3*, having led from start to finish. On board Holly and William Becker’s Irish sport horse Loughan Glen he added nothing to his strong 33.8 dressage test, despite coming into the showjumping with more than two fences in hand.

    “He’s good on the flat and we’ve taken that out of his programme — everything is based around his fitness,” said Clark of the horse, whose stamina is his biggest challenge. “He does a lot of hacking, galloping and working on speed.” Now based at Mark Phillips’s Gloucestershire farm, the hills there have been useful.

    Clark and his family moved to the UK three years ago to further his eventing career, a decision vindicated by this, the biggest win of his career. Now he hopes he’s caught the eye of the American selectors for Rio.

    Rising from seventh after dressage to the eventual runner-up spot was Christopher Burton on Nobilis 18. The horse was once on world champion Michael Jung’s yard — “but luckily for me he didn’t buy him”.

    With plentiful clear rounds on the final day, errors sent riders plummeting down the order. Two down from Cool Mountain dropped William Fox-Pitt from fourth overnight to 11th, but franking their form at Blair last week were Kitty King and Gemma Tattersall who rose to third and fourth respectively with Ceylor LAN and Quicklook V.

    “To get the time [yesterday] as an eight-year-old is great,” said Kitty of the gelding by KWPN showjumping stallion Veron, whom she has brought on since a four-year-old. “He was a bit tired today, but still so careful. My horses are really coming through now.”

    Jonelle Price retains Blenheim CIC3* title

    The CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-olds was also won by its dressage leader, Jonelle Price, who becomes the first person to win this class back to back, having triumphed last year on Faerie Dianamo.

    “I’m not really a winner,” said a modest Jonelle — she was fifth at Burghley a couple of weeks ago, after all — “It’s taken me a year to win a big class again. But it’s great to win it on an eight-year-old.”

    Her mount, the Marley and Me syndicate’s Cloud Dancer II, was bought as a project almost against her better judgement on account of his dressage breeding (he’s by San Remo). Making the time across country was Jonelle’s concern after one of only 15 clear rounds show jumping, but, having survived a very sticky moment at the Shires Equestrian Wooded Hollow at eight, they did not exceed the 25 seconds they could afford to be over the optimum.

    Second was France’s Astier Nicolas on board Helen and Paul Fern’s Spes Addit Or, who has only had two warm up events this year after a year off with a small injury, with Jonty Evans third on Cooley Rorkes Drift.

    “I’ve had some nice horses but not such a top-class one before,” said an emotional Jonty. “We weren’t convinced his movement [on the flat] was good enough originally but he’s really come on.”

    The best British rider was Ian Wills whose typically speedy round on Hartpury Sky Is The Limit helped carry him from equal 21st after dressage to fourth.

    Read H&H’s full report on all the action from Blenheim in this week’s magazine, on sale Thursday 24 September

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