Oliver Townend leads British novice championship after jumping on ‘top class but green as grass’ seven-year-old

  • Oliver Townend holds pole position in the Gatcombe Horse Trials British novice championship at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing heading into the final cross-country phase.

    The British Olympic gold medallist took an early lead with Finley Du Loir on a dressage score of 22.4 and then showjumped clear in the Dodson & Horrell-sponsored class. Oliver’s leading ride is a French-bred seven-year-old, by Quartz Du Chanu, owned by Sir John Peace.

    “He’s top, top class, but he’s green as grass – he’s probably the greenest horse in the field by a country mile,” said Oliver. “He only started his eventing campaign this year. He’s never seen people, he’s never seen crowds, he’s only seen one intermediate. He’s come here for the experience and whatever comes after that will be a big bonus.”

    In his seven runs this year with Oliver, Finley Du Loir has had three wins, two in novices and one in the CCI2*-S at Floors Castle.

    Noémi Doerfer, 23, also showjumped clear to move up from third after dressage to second on her own 10-year-old Serengethi.

    “He was really good yesterday, really good today – so now it’s fingers crossed we can do the same out on the cross-country,” said Noémi, who is half German, half Hungarian and rides for Hungary.

    Serengethi is dressage-bred by Sir Donnerhall and Noémi also started out in that discipline.

    “I bought him as a three-year-old and then after a year or so I decided I quite liked jumping and eventing so I started doing that,” said the rider, who moved to Britain from Germany three years ago. “We started eventing together and did everything from 90 upwards, getting better and better. I’m very happy to have him.”

    Tom McEwen and Falaise De Riverland, owned by Magdalena Gut, Vicky Bates and David Myers, were second after dressage on a score of 23.1, but dropped down to fourth after having the green and white oxer at fence four down. The same fence also put paid to a clear for Coral Keen, fourth after dressage on her own and Ginnie Wellings’ Impuls V, so she has slipped to seventh ahead of the cross-country in the Gatcombe Horse Trials British novice championship.

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