Ros Canter retains her lead ahead of ‘tough’ cross-country in Blenheim Horse Trials’ young horse class

  • The overnight leaders of the Blenheim Horse Trials dressage in the CCI4*-S class have held their ground as the second day’s (17 September) contenders failed to shake up the podium places. Ros Canter is still in the lead, on 26.6 with Izilot DHI, ahead of Tom Jackson (HH Moonwalk on 27.6) and Gemma Tattersall (Flash Cooley on 28.3).

    There were still plenty of competitive tests, however, with just five penalties covering the top 12, which will make for a fascinating day’s cross-country on Sunday for these young horses. They have to get through the showjumping first though – no winner of this class has ever lowered a rail.

    Dani Evans came closest to a top-three dressage finish early in the morning (17 September), slotting into fourth on Hollywood Dancer on 28.4. Towards the end of the session, Izzy Taylor rode Hartacker into sixth.

    “Like all these young horses, he’s never been anywhere or seen anything like this, so this has been very good for him,” Izzy said of Camilla Behrens’ gelding by Spartacus HN. “He was a little bit nervous and held his breath in his trot work. But he has a fantastic walk, which was rewarded, and a very good canter which pulled the marks back again. His trot will be very good, he just needs to be prouder of himself.

    “He is very sensitive – you have to be very careful getting on him the first time with a tailcoat – so his preparation has to be quiet. That’s why he hasn’t yet learned to be a show-off.”

    Izzy predicted changes in the leaderboard on cross-country day.

    The course looks plenty tough enough, the toughest I’ve seen it for the eight and nine-year-olds. It doesn’t look like it will be a dressage competition, but that’s good, we are event riders.”

    Izzy’s team-mate at the forthcoming Europeans, Nicola Wilson, was less than a penalty behind in seventh on Coolparks Sarco, who was unaffected by his little spook before entering the arena.

    “It’s his first four-star, and he’s not established but went in there and tried to do what was right, and did his changes, so I’m really pleased with him,” said Nicola. “The course is very big and there’s an awful lot to jump. He’s a big, powerful jumper but he won’t have seen these crowds so it’s a massive learning curve and I hope he enjoys it as much as he normally does. I want him to come home a happy horse. So far, he’s enjoying the attention and rolling and squealing a lot!”

    Former Blenheim Horse Trials winner in contention

    Willa Newton was another rider on the second day to produce an impressive test. She rode Cock A Doodle Doo to move into 11th on 31.

    “It’s nice to have a horse back at this level,” said Willa, who won this class five years ago on Caja 20. “I was really pleased with this as it is a lot of walk for him, especially in a big atmosphere.”

    Willa was ruing a mistake in the last flying change as “normally they are his thing”.

    “He has a lot to learn, this is a step up,” she added. “ The cross-country is intense with a lot to do, and the time is definitely going to be a huge factor.”

    Piggy French and her former world young horse champion Cooley Lancer also slotted into a top-10 position, taking eighth with 30.1.

    Brilliant Blenheim atmosphere takes effect

    Will Rawlin was delighted with Ballycoog Breaker Boy’s effort, scoring 31.8 and securing a top-15 berth.

    “This atmosphere is quite something, and I didn’t have time to do the arena familiarisation, but he kept a lid on everything and produced a really nice test,” he said. “Just a few things need ironing out, but it seemed smooth. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the cross-country – it looks educational with some good questions.”

    Caroline Powell also noted the effect of the atmosphere on these inexperienced horses. She rode eight-year-old Greenacres Special Cavalier to score 33.8, good enough for the top 20.

    “She got tense in the walk and a bit stilted, but she’s a big mare and I’m very happy with her,” said the Kiwi rider. “This is why we like bringing these young horses, to get them used to the atmosphere.”

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