Blenheim heroes Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir enjoyed a stellar prep run at Thoresby’s Lycetts Grantham Cup CCI4*-S (31 March to 3 April) as they look ahead to the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in three weeks time.
This will be the first five-star for the combination, who topped Blenheim Horse Trials CCI4*-L in 2021. The partnership’s other top results include winning the relocated eight- and nine-year-old championship in 2020, held at Burnham Market, third at Bicton Horse Trials CCI4*-L under-25 championship, plus three other top-10 finishes at four-star level.
Yasmin and “Banzai”, owned by Sue Davies and Janette Chinn, rose from seventh after dressage to finish fourth in Thoresby’s feature class on Lycetts Sunday. The pair jumped double clear, adding 3.2 cross-country time-penalties over Stuart Buntine’s track to their smart dressage score of 26.4.
“The first international of the year, you’ve got to come out of the box and go for it, really,” said Yasmin, who hails from the Isle of Man and is now based in Cheshire.
“He has been quite solid this weekend. The time was fairly tight, I wasn’t absolutely going hell for leather everywhere, there was definitely more in the tank and more speed there.”
The 24-year-old added she has “lots to take away” from Thoresby in terms of what she can work on to “squeeze extra marks” in the dressage, and was really pleased with Banzai’s attitude and performance across country.
“The dressage is always where you can gain, and I think with him being very able, he’s very lovely to look at, his paces are great, just trying to squeeze every mark out of him in the dressage is very important. It’s all in there, I just need to wiggle it out,” she said.
“His showjumping is usually very solid, he’s quite consistent in that phase.
“On the cross-country, there’s always that element where you put them in a situation to see how they react, and today I had that. At the birch rail to the shoulder [at the British Polo Gin mound at 15ab], I was a little bit off the three strides. To be honest, he had the opportunity to run out, and there was not a doubt in his mind that he was going between the flags.
“I think those sort of moments give you a lot of reassurance and confidence. It’s just nice he is feeling that way and wanting to go.”
All being well, Kentucky remains “plan A” for the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding, by Nouma D’Auzay.
“We’ve been very last-minute with the entry,” said Yasmin. “The entries shut earlier this week and we had to put the entry in for ‘plan A’, which is that we are going to go.
“It was a little bit riding on today, just to make sure that he was in a good frame of mind and feeling well.
“I wanted to make sure I was competitive this weekend as it is such a short time before the event, and it’s really early on in the season, so I think it’s important to be competitive at an international beforehand.
“Obviously it would have been nice to have been a bit closer to the time, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over that. It’s there and with the long-format, there’s so much more galloping and I feel like that will be better for him in terms of the course.”
She added that while Kentucky was a “last-minute” entry, the decision to cross the pond was certainly “not made overnight”.
“We thought about both Kentucky and Badminton, and decided maybe Badminton would be better for him next year,” she said, adding with two missed years, it is likely to be a particularly competitive field and bold course.
“Sue and Janette have had horses compete at Kentucky before and it’s an event they have gone to and loved.
“A lot of being involved for them is to go and watch their horse compete and for them to enjoy it. For them, the Kentucky option was very appetising. It was a difficult one, but an opportunity for me and the horse and the owners at this stage now where it’s very much a possibility to go, and fingers-crossed, potentially do well. And you’ve just got to take the opportunity.”
Thoresby replaces Belton in the calendar as both a major short-format international in its own right, and a preparation run for horses and riders targeting spring five-stars.
The top three in the Grantham Cup, headed by winners Piggy March and Brookfield Inocent, owned by Alison Swinburn and John and Chloe Perry, are all entered for Badminton.
For the full report from the Eventing Spring Carnival at Thoresby Park, don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound – out Thursday (7 April).
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