Blenheim CCI4*-L first timer Yasmin, 24, and her Paris 2024 prospect Banzai Du Loir top the standings ahead of the jumping phases on a score of 25.2, with Piggy and Brookfield Quality just 0.6 of a penalty behind in provisional second (25.8).
The pair set the standard in quick succession on Thursday morning. Piggy and the 12-year-old “Norris”, owned by John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn, briefly grasped the lead on Thursday lunchtime.
“He delivered a nice test – it’s a big week all week here for him, so we’ll tick each box as we get there,” she said.
Yasmin, who was drawn next to go, ended Piggy’s seven-minute reign with a stunning performance aboard Sue Davies and Janette Chinn’s 10-year-old rising star.
“I think this is the most exciting horse I’ve ever had the privilege of riding,” said Yasmin, who won the young horse CCI4*-S with Banzai Du Loir at temporary host venue Burnham Market in 2020. “He was bought with a very long goal of Paris, so I’m really excited that we’re hopefully on track to be up there in the mix with the top ones.”
Blenheim Horse Trials dressage: how the action played out
The flurry of Thursday lunchtime excitement was followed by a long wait for any combination to come close to edging the top two from their lofty seats.
The closest challenges came in the after lunch session on Friday afternoon. Pippa Funnell and Maybach, owned by S.H.E. Eventing, impressed the judges to score 27.2. In an echo of Thursday morning’s events, another combination were waiting in the wings to edge ahead.
No sooner had the virtual ink dried on Pippa’s score on the online leaderboard than Ros Canter and her multiple CCI4*-S winner Lordships Graffalo pushed ahead with a mark of 26.7. This means Ros is in third and Piggy holds fourth going into cross-country day.
“Certainly we’re going to go out and give it our best shot [across country],” said Ros. “When you’re in that good a position, you go for it or you go home, don’t you?”
Emily King is in provisional fifth on the same score as Pippa (27.2), with Pippa ahead on collectives.
Ireland’s Susie Berry is sixth and the highest placed international rider at this stage with John The Bull. The pair are one of three combinations on 27.9, again separated by collectives. Piggy March and her second ride, Sportsfield Top Notch, are in seventh, Izzy Taylor and Springpower sit eighth.
Two riders from Britain’s Tokyo Olympic gold medal-winning eventing team round off the top 10, with Oliver Townend and new ride Swallow Springs in ninth and Tom McEwen provisionally 10th with Bob Chaplin. Both combinations are on a score of 28.5, separated by collectives.
The CCI4*-L cross-country starts at 11am tomorrow (Saturday, 18 September).
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