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Izzy Taylor commands convincing Blenheim CCI4*-L dressage lead: ‘I’m very proud to have him’

Izzy Taylor has taken a commanding lead after the first phase in the CCI4*-L at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials.

Izzy and the rising star Monkeying Around performed an expressive test to spring into the lead on a score of 22.7 — an international personal best for the eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding.

“I’m very happy,” said Izzy, who co-owns the son of Bertoli with Mark Sartori.

“I’ve had him since he was a four-year-old and it makes a massive difference when you can have them in your system from the word go. He is a beautiful horse and I’m very proud to have him.

“Blenheim is only 10 minutes from home for me, which is lovely. It means my children can come and watch, which makes it special and it is the most beautiful setting.”

The combination command a 2.7 penalty lead over Piggy French and Brookfield Inocent, who have risen to second following the withdrawal of first-day dressage leaders Will Rawlin and V.I.P Vinnie.

Will, who scored 24.2 in Thursday’s afternoon session — a huge personal best at this level for the German-bred gelding, said he was “gutted” to withdraw, but the horse is feeling “a little under par”.

“I can’t take the risk of running him and something happening,” he said. “As a team we are thinking long term and I am just glad it isn’t anything serious.”

Piggy said the horse is “so exciting for the future”.

“I’m just over the moon that he went in there and stayed with me,” she said, adding he can be spooky and has a particular aversion to flowerpots.

“There’s a couple of bits I think I could have done better, but overall, I’m delighted.”

The Northamptonshire-based rider has two horses inside the top-20, with today’s ride Castletown Clover performing his first sub-30 test to slot into equal 19th.

“He is such a lovely little horse, we call him out pet,” she said. “Every time I ride him, all he wants to do is try his best. The fact he has done that, his owners will now be sat in the sunshine having a wonderful time. Sometimes this is what it is all about — giving as much fun to other people as we have ourselves.”

Kazuma Tomoto, who burst onto the eventing scene when he finished second in the eight- and nine-year-olds here in 2017 aboard Brookpark Vikenti, is lying third with the 11-year-old gelding.

“It was a bit of a shame about both halts, but I’m very happy,” said Kazuma. “We went to Luhmühlen, but it wasn’t good, so we made a plan for Blenheim.”

The horse’s canter was a highlight in the consistent test, which was trending around 7.5 to 8.5 for the majority of the movement, with the flying changes a particular high point.

Australia’s Kevin McNab is just 0.1 penalty behind Kazuma with Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend, with Willa Newton and Moonlight Dance S in fifth overnight on 26.1.

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Burghley 2019 winner Pippa Funnell is in sixth and 19th with Billy The Biz (26.3) and Billy Walk On (28.2) respectively. Less than two penalties separate her two rides, which shows how close the competition is.

Emily King (Dargun) and British-based French rider Constance Copestake (El Kolibri) are lying equal eighth on 27.1, with Bruce Davidson JR and Carlevo completing the top-10 on a score of 27.2.

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