‘He’s made for tracks like this’: Piggy March blazes Britain’s trail at twisty Europeans cross-country course

  • Piggy March gave a masterful display to bank Britain’s first clear round in the European Eventing Championships cross-country phase in Avenches, Switzerland. Riding John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn’s Brookfield Inocent, Piggy popped round as it were a novice track to clock the fastest round so far and complete this phase on her dressage of 23.

    “He’s a beautiful, beautiful horse,” said Piggy of the 12-year-old Irish Sports Horse. “He’s made for tracks like this – he’s made for most tracks, he’s just a very good cross-country horse.”

    Piggy was held for a short time at the start while the MIM clip that Alexsandr Markov’s Leader displaced. She took the long route at the angled hedge at fence 6, with the knowledge that Frenchman Jean-Lou Bigot – the only rider to make the time so far – had done so. By halfway round she was already eight seconds up on the clock and she sailed through the finish 10 seconds inside.

    “My only worry was fence 6 and having heard someone had made the time going the long route, I knew not many people were sat on as fast as horse as mine,” Piggy said. “If he’s on his day there was no reason he shouldn’t get away with it. He can be spooky at the beginning of courses and with that big angled hedge with the pile of trees to take him off his line, he could make a genuine mistake. The rest of it he felt so on it, we had a lovely time.

    “He did get tired enough for a horse that’s as much of a cruiser he is. That’s the nature of the course turning back so much, but he got into a rhythm on the straight. It is tiring riding the twists and turns. It’s an intense one-day event course in a three-day event format.

    Piggy was in sixth place overnight, little more than three penalties adrift of the leader Ingrid Klimke (SAP Hale Bob OLD).

    European Eventing Championships cross-country: “I set out to make the time”

    Britain’s first individual rider Izzy Taylor produced the third clear round of the day inside the time riding her own and Mark Sartori’s 10-year-old Monkeying Around, by Bertoli.  Izzy was in 20th overnight and goes forward to showjumping on her competitive dressage score of 27.9.

    “I‘m delighted and relieved,” said Izzy. “He is still green and like all these younger horses, the past two years have been non-existent. To start with he was having a nice look around at all the people, but he was fantastic. He was very genuine and tried his little heart out the whole way round.

    “I set out to go inside the time. I knew I’d go long at fence 6 to 7 as he’s very careful and I didn’t want to give him a fright early on. It was twisty, you never had a moment to gallop and think, you just had to keep turning round and doing another jump.”

    Germany’s Christoph Wahler and Carjatan S, in a competitive position of 12th after the dressage on 26, were the first to take the short route at the angled hedges at fence 6. Christoph is riding as an individual on this lovely bold grey by Clearway, so he could afford to take the risk and it paid off. He stopped the clock two seconds outside the time or 0.8 of a penalty to keep the pressure on the top 10.

    So far, all the riders that have set out have completed, with the majority going clear but just Izzy, Piggy and Jean-Lou inside the time at this stage.

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