‘Sassy, but professional’ mare delivers in Blair Castle Horse Trials CCI2*-L cross-country

  • Lucinda Atkinson flew home four seconds inside the time to take the lead of the Land Rover Blair Castle Horse Trials CCI2*-L on the “sassy” six-year-old mare Twice Proved.

    The track marked the first two-star long format for Pippa Reynold’s Twice Proved, known at home as “Missy”.

    “She’s never gone as long as that, bless her she dug deep,” Lucinda told H&H.

    “She kept galloping but she was slowing up – a horse was coming back from the corner at the top and after going up the hill she kind of thought ‘Oh I’m finished’ and I had to say ‘No come on’.”

    Northallerton-based Lucinda explained she was initially down on the time, but caught up as she made her way round the 30 jumping efforts. The course asked plenty of questions, with the combination at six (Voltaire Design Rail & Ditch Complex) proving influential; three riders fell and four combinations activated the MIM clip.

    Fence 11ab (World Horse Welfare Gate and Corner) also caused issues for some and Lucinda said it was easy for horses to lose concentration after coming up the steep hill.

    “You had to do a tight turn and be accurate for the gate then turn for the corner. I had a bit of a flat horse there so I think I added [strides]. I had to say ‘Come on, come on’. Luckily she just kept jumping for me,” she said.

    “She was going a little bit green on me at some of the combinations and I had to encourage her to go over them, but it’s a big ask. There’s plenty of things for six-year-olds out there. Last year I was second and fourth (with KGB Sandro and Dancing Revolution) in the two-star and they were a bit older and went round very easy in the time, but they were bigger stronger horses.”

    Lucinda sourced Missy for her owner Pippa three years ago at the Gorebridge sales, and the plan is Pippa will event her in the future.

    “We’re having a bit of fun with her at the moment,” she said. “Yesterday she did an amazing test – she did absolutely nothing wrong.

    “She’s sassy, but professional. She’s a real little pro –she rises to the occasion. She’s not the biggest, and not the flashiest mover, but hopefully she’s an exciting one for the future.”

    Wills Oakden lies in second overnight with Keep It Cooley after posting a stylish clear inside the time to remain on their 28.3 dressage – only 0.1 behind Lucinda. Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon has moved up to provisional third on Irish Jig III.

    “He’s a horse we have a lot of belief in,” Wills told H&H. “He’s really shown a lot of promise today so we’re very excited about him.

    “I don’t think it’s easy out there. I was up on the clock at five or six minutes but coming down the hill the clock kept catching me up. But he’s a very good horse and I’m excited to be in a good position on him. What will be will be tomorrow.”

    Wills, who also lies in 12th overnight in the CCI4*-S on DHI By Design and provisional fifth on Cooley Pot of Gold in the CCI3*-L, said the tracks at Blair Castle Horse Trials have tested horses and riders.

    “Every course across the board has stiffened up this year,” he said. “It’s made a bit harder, which I think is probably good for the sport.

    “I think it’s very educational, and we’ve just got to get out there and teach the horses something.”

    Overnight leader after the dressage Caroline Powell dropped to eighth with Tik Tok after picking up 5.6 time-penalties, but the New Zealander was thrilled with his clear jumping round. She is in provisional fifth with Legally Grey, and 66th with Tokara.

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