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‘He was beautiful to ride’: top British eventer heads competitive Blenheim young horse CCI4*-S

Piggy French has held onto her first day lead in the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-olds at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials.

Piggy and the nine-year-old Calling Card (Carentino x Heraldik), owned by Jayne McGivern, head the 66-strong class on a score of 26.7.

She said the horse was “beautiful to ride” in his test.

“To be honest, I’ve just come into the competition really interested in how he goes,” she said. “I’m not particularly thinking that running flat out and getting the time is what he will do this weekend.

“However if he comes out the start box and feels very good, I’m always half competitive so I will probably have a go. But it is a stepping-stone for him rather than thinking ‘this is his one to get’.

“I really like the horse, so I want to do what is right for him at this stage in his career.”

The top-three remain unchanged from Thursday’s leaderboard, while just over a pole separates first and 10th place.

Australian rider Sam Griffiths remains in second, 2.1 penalties behind Piggy, on a score of 28.8.

“This class is like an unofficial championship – if you have a horse who goes well here, you know you’ve got a good one,” said Sam.

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Mary King continues to tomorrow’s showjumping in third aboard King Robert II. The British-bred eight-year-old gelding has eventing A-listers on both sides of his family tree. His sire is none other than Badminton victor Chilli Morning, while he is out of Mary’s Kentucky-winning mare, Kings Temptress.

Three riders are now tied for fourth place. Chris Burton (Clever Louis) and William Fox-Pitt (Georgisaurous) have both matched Oliver Townend and Dreamliner’s first day score of 29.7.
Yasmin Ingham and her 2018 under-21 national champion Rehy DJ, fifth overnight, now lie in seventh place on 30.1.

Hannah Bate and Fanta Bay (30.3), France’s Thomas Carlile aboard Birmane (30.4) and Tom McEwan with Drewamaway II (31) complete the top-10.

Thomas will be the first rider into the arena in tomorrow’s showjumping phase, which starts at 3.30pm (BST), aboard his other ride in this class — Bary Louvo, with whom he is lying 12th overnight on a score of 31.3.

For the full report from the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials, don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound — out Thursday (26 September).

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