All change at the top: Irish rider heads Pau Horse Trials leaderboard in major shake-up of provisional standings

  • Ireland’s Padraig McCarthy holds the provisional lead after the morning session on the second day of Pau Horse Trials dressage with a new international personal best of 24.9 aboard Fallulah.

    The 12-year-old Westphalian mare, who made her five-star debut as the last to go before the lunch break, is by renowned dressage sire Fidertanz and her breeding showed through in her ability within the white boards.

    The pair were trending around a similar mark to the leaders and franked their place at the head of the provisional standings with a generous flurry of eights for their changes, plus nines for their halt and the double-weighted overall impression.

    Flying changes are a crucial part of the five-star test and this is where Fallulah claimed an edge over her rivals. With four sets of marks available, they hold more influence than any other single movement on the score sheet.

    “Today was was very satisfying and we were really thrilled with her,” Padraig told H&H, adding he takes five-stars “day by day”.

    “She’s put a really good mark down for tomorrow and she’s normally very genuine and a real trier on the cross-country. Obviously, a five-star is a step up, and the distance is longer than she would have gone, so it’s going to be a real five-star, I think.”

    The score, one of the top three best CCI5* tests by an Irish rider, is also a new international personal best at any level for the horse, who Padraig owns with Amanda and Nicholas Boyle, Diane Brunsden and Peter Cattell.

    “She’s a really sweet, easy mare to deal with,” he added. “It’s taken us a while to get together as a combination, which I think is always the case when you get an older horse and somebody else has produced them.

    “She’s obviously very elegant and a very beautiful mover. We’ve just struggled to get the strength and the consistency in her work, which really feels like it’s coming now. We’ve had a lot of help this year with Tracy Robinson, who is now our our team trainer, and that’s made all the difference.

    “I actually asked William Fox-Pitt this morning if he would give me a hand in the warm-up. Fair play to William, he of course obliged. It’s always helpful to have a good pair of eyes on you in those last 10 to 20 minutes.”

    This morning’s contenders gave the business end of the provisional leaderboard a total overhaul. New faces filled the top four places and less than a single fence separating the top 10 ahead of the Friday afternoon session.

    Australia’s Kevin McNab and his Millstreet CCI4*-S winner Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend’s polished performance, featuring wow-factor trot work, was rewarded with a mark of 26.2 and into provisional second.

    Sofia Sjoborg, 23, and her multiple youth medal-winner SHI Mighty Dwight, co-owned by Juliet Sjoborg, made a spectacular first five-star impression to hold third on 26.8. The result is the fifth best ever dressage score achieved by a Swedish rider at CCI5*-level.

    First into the arena at 10am local time was Sidney Dufresne and the Selle Francais mare Swing De Perdriat, owned by Iris De Fleurieu. The 15-year-old Glamour Margot daughter’s relaxed and flowing test put the pair provisionally on the same total (27.4) as overnight joint leaders William Fox-Pitt on Oratorio and Ailsa Wates and Woodlands Persuasion.

    But the Frenchman’s score was then revised to 27.2, inching him ahead by 0.2 of a penalty, putting him in provisional fourth at the end of the morning. William and Ailsa held provisional fifth at Friday lunchtime, with fellow Brits Oliver Townend (Ridire Dorcha) and Bubby Upton (Cola) in seventh and eighth respectively.

    The best British performance this morning came from Kylie Roddy and the Fox family’s SRS Kan Do. The pair’s beautifully presented test earned them a score of 29.1 from judges Andrew Bennie, Christina Klingspor and Emmanuelle Olier.

    Tina Cook and Billy The Red, owned by Elisabeth Murdoch and Keith Tyson, rounded off the provisional top 10 at Friday lunchtime on 29.2

    View the Pau Horse Trials dressage results in full

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