The focus is on Tokyo in the short format class, while rising stars will shine in the long format sections, says H&H’s eventing editor Pippa Roome as she previews Bicton International
BICTON steps in to replace Bramham this year and hosts the same three classes that usually run at the Yorkshire fixture. Over 100 are set to start in the CCI4*-S and nearly 100 in the CCI4*-L – both classes are supported by Chedington, who are also the title event sponsor. The news that there is no exemption to the travel ban and 14 days’ quarantine for entering Germany means most of those who were double entered here and at Luhmühlen Horse Trials are heading to Devon.
Now that the British nominated entries for the Olympics have been announced, the spotlight will be turned on every move those pairs make, good or bad. Seven of the nine come to Bicton in the CCI4*-S, with only Oliver Townend with Ballaghmor Class and Harry Meade with Superstition missing, as those two played their hand at Kentucky in April.
Are Ros Canter (Allstar B), Laura Collett (London 52), Kitty King (Vendredi Biats), Piggy March (Brookfield Inocent), Pippa Funnell (Majas Hope), Nicola Wilson (Bulana) and Tom McEwen (Toledo De Kerser) fighting to the death for Tokyo spots? We’ll see. It’s possible not everyone needs to go flat to the boards to secure a berth on the plane.
Other nations’ Tokyo contenders will also want to confirm selection or have strong preparatory runs in the CCI4*-S, among them Australia’s Chris Burton (Clever Louis, Quality Purdey and Polystar I) and Kevin McNab (Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam), Japan’s Toshiyuki Tanaka (Talma D’Allou and Swiper JRA) and Kazuma Tomoto (Bernadette Utopia and Vinci De La Vigne), Ireland’s Cathal Daniels (Rioghan Rua) and China’s Alex Hua Tian (Don Geniro).
Then again, the class could go to someone who’s out of the running for Tokyo so has nothing to lose – Andrew Nicholson is no longer in the mix for the New Zealand team after a falling out at the 2014 World Equestrian Games and brings forward five-star horse Swallow Springs, Tina Cook is not nominated with European double team medallist Billy The Red and nor is Pippa Funnell’s 2019 Burghley Horse Trials winner, MGH Grafton Street.
Ones to watch in the CCI4*-L
Sarah Bullimore, 48
Sarah brings forward the home-bred Corouet, who is the first offspring of her five-star mare Lilly Corinne. He doesn’t let the fact he’s only 15.2hh hold him back and followed up third in the CCI4*-L at Burnham Market last year with fifth in the hot CCI4*-S at Aston-le-Walls this spring, which secured them a place among the British reserve nominations for Tokyo. Sarah also has a good chance on Reve Du Rouet, who has vast experience at five-star.
Emilie Chandler, 40
Emilie and Gortfadda Diamond were CCI4*-L winners at Blair Castle Horse Trials 2019 and the horse made a solid five-star debut in the first two phases at Pau Horse Trials last year to sit 20th overnight, before being withdrawn before showjumping with an overreach. He confirmed he’s on form with ninth in a CCI4*-S section at Aston-le-Walls in May and this under-the-radar pair should impress.
Laura Collett, 31
Could win it on either of her rides. Mr Bass has been on the podium at the level above and is very experienced now, so he should cruise round, assuming he lets Laura ride him. Dacapo was an eye-catching young horse – third in the eight- and nine-year-olds in 2018 – and has had a few issues as he’s moved up to the senior levels, but the time could be ripe for him to come back into the spotlight.
Ros Canter, 35
The world champion has three rides, of whom the most prominent is last year’s eight- and nine-year-old runner-up Lordships Graffalo, who recently won a CCI4*-S at Aston-le-Walls on his 21.8 dressage score. He makes his CCI4*-L debut, as does Rehy Royal Diamond. Pencos Crown Jewel was seventh in Burnham Market’s CCI4*-L last year and is more experienced than the other two.
William Fox-Pitt, 52
Grafennacht was fourth at Le Lion as a seven-year-old in 2019, but she has been run very quietly since stepping up to four-star, as is William’s way. But the rider holds the record for wins in Bramham’s CCI4*-L – six – and has sprung surprises in this class before with fairly unknown nine-year-olds, so we shouldn’t rule him out of success at this Bramham replacement fixture.
Ben Hobday, 33
The 11-year-old Shadow Man II is the most serious horse Ben has had and is experienced at the level. He was the national champion and second overall in
the British open at Gatcombe in 2019 and has had two other seconds at four-star. A reserve listing among the British nominated entries for Tokyo is a feather in their cap and they’ll want to live up to it with a good result.
Piggy March, 40
Piggy has two potential winners in this class. The issues with travelling to Luhmühlen mean it’s likely 2019 Badminton winner Vanir Kamira will take up her entry here and she’s shown good form this spring. The 12-year-old Brookfield Quality makes his debut at CCI4*-L, having been first and second in two CCI4*-Ss and only lost a good placing in his first one through an unfortunate showjumping slip.
Gemma Tattersall, 36
A late entry off the back of the problems with travelling to Luhmühlen, Gemma rides two horses with five-star experience. Santiago Bay hasn’t shown a lot since being seventh at Burghley 2019, but could impress if she can recapture that form. Chilli Knight is a former podium horse in Blenheim Horse Trials’ eight-and-nine-year-old class and has a recent third at Burnham Market CCI4*-S.
Izzy Taylor, 38
This rider turns 39 on the Friday of Bicton so a win would be an excellent birthday present. Happy Days, Ringwood Madras and Graf Cavalier are inexperienced and the latter two are also quite new rides to Izzy. Her potential winner is the more seasoned Springpower, back with Izzy after a season with Sarah Cohen – he can be competitive at this level, but has had blips so it could go either way. He is the pathfinder in this class.
Nicola Wilson, 44
Nicola has been on good for this year with the 10-year-old JL Dublin, who has four top-10 results at four-star. He might be slightly off the pace in the dressage, but should rise after that. She also starts on the less experienced Erano M, who tackles his first CCI4*-L.
Top contenders in under-25 CCI4*-L
Cathal Daniels (IRL)
Cathal won this class in 2019 on Rioghan Rua, and brings forward Sammy Davis Junior this time. He didn’t compete internationally in 2019 or 2020, but scored a recent CCI4*-S third at Ballindenisk.
Heidi Coy (GBR)
The former young rider individual silver medallist has three horses in the fray – nine-year-old mares Halenza and Russal Z and 13-year-old gelding Carrigsean Tigerseye.
Bubby Upton (GBR)
Young rider individual silver medallist Cola III was recently seventh in a competitive CCI4*-S at Aston-le-Walls, while the older Cannavaro was fifth in the other section at the same event. Both should be in the ribbons.
Yasmin Ingham (GBR)
Brings forward three horses and is favourite to win this class on either Rehy DJ – who had a first five-star run at Pau last year – or the 2020 eight- and nine-year-old champion Banzai Du Loir (above).
Susie Berry (IRL)
Both Susie’s rides, Ringwood LB and John The Bull, have solid form, including a win at Aston-le-Walls elite advanced intermediate this spring for the latter.
Felicity Collins (GBR)
Felicity and RSH Contend Or (below) are three-time under-21 team medallists and have good recent jumping form at four-star, although they probably won’t lead the dressage.
This preview is also available to read in 3 June 2021 issue of Horse & Hound magazine, on sale now
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