Blenheim win for Christopher Burton by narrowest of margins

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A fast cross-country round by Australia’s Christopher Burton and Cooley Lands secured the win for the pair in the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-olds.

Christopher was the only rider to make the optimum time of six minutes 49 seconds, finishing a comfortable four seconds inside.

“I’m delighted really to have the ride on him – I rode him as a seven-year-old and [his owner] Kate Walls has been doing a great job on him ever since, although I have to say I’ve been pining over having him back,” said Christopher, who also finished third in yesterday’ Event Rider Masters (ERM) section with Graf Liberty.

“I’m just so thrilled that he went like he did today. He loves his job, he wants to jump, so for me it was a delight.”

He added that they have Boekelo CCI3* (5-8 October) “in mind” for the horse.

Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto, who led after both the dressage and showjumping phases with Brookpark Vikenti, was pipped into second place by 0.1 penalty.

Kazuma had a long hold on course after the Ariat Dew Pond due to a fall by Holly Woodhead from the first of her two rides – Mr Sneezy – at the penultimate combination. Both horse and rider were uninjured.

But the hold did not put the combination off and they produced a spot-on jumping round to come home with just two time penalties.

“I’m very, very pleased, but it is a little bit of a shame to be 0.1 off the leader,” said Kazuma.

The former international grand prix showjumper switched to eventing 18 months ago and admitted it is “still a bit scary” and thanked William Fox-Pitt for the help he has been giving him.

Meanwhile, Holly put her unseating behind her and set off with determination aboard her second ride, Parkfield Quintessential, with whom she was lying third after dressage.

 

Bar one slightly sticky moment into the lake, the pair stormed around David Evans’ track to finish with 6.8 time faults to remain in third on the final leaderboard.

The horse had top-three finishes in the four-, five- and six-year-old championships as a youngster with his previous rider, Zoe Wilkinson, who produced him.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with him – he was phenomenal throughout the cross-country, he did make me work quite hard, but we got through it together.

“I was on a mission – knew the time was gettable, but that’s Chris Burton for you so you are always trying to catch him up!

“I went as fast as I could go sensibly and safely and the horse gave me everything he could.”

The result is extra special as Parkfield Quinessential has had injury troubles in recent years.

“This time last year we didn’t actually know whether the horse would be ridden again, so it is a dream come true that he is here within a season,” said Holly.

The SAP Corner Combination at fence 21 caused the most problems on course, with eight combinations faulting here. Heavy rain overnight resulted in a few slippery patches on course and a number of lost shoes, but overall the course rode well.

US rider Elizabeth Halliday-Sharp (below) held onto third place with Deniro Z for much of the morning, until a quick round from Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon and One Night Love – who finished fourth behind Holly – bumped her down the leaderboard.

 

Saturday’s Event Rider Masters leg winner Izzy Taylor enjoyed another strong jumping round with her catch-ride Springpower, to finish seventh.

 

Last year’s victors Willa Newton and the striking chestnut Caja 20 also produced a smooth round, picking up eight time faults to finish 15th.

Don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound – out Thursday, 21 September – for a full report from Blenheim