Kimberly Severson has won the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials CCI3* 16 years after her last victory at the Oxfordshire event.
The US rider and Cooley Cross Border jumped a polished clear round to win on their dressage score of 37.8.
Kimberly last rode at Blenheim in 2001, where she triumphed in this class on her three-time Rolex Kentucky CCI4* winner Winsome Andante.
Kimberly has based the horse with Richard Sheane at Cooley Farm in Ireland for the summer. Another Cooley Farm graduate – Cooley Lands – was the winner of the 2017 Blenheim CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-old horses with Christopher Burton.
Kim flew over six times to ride and compete the horse in the run-up to Blenheim.
“He has always been a very competitive horse,” said Kimberly, thanking Cooley Farm and all her support team for their help.
“We have had our problems in the past, we had a little triple brush issue in the beginning and little things here and there, but he has absolutely always been this quality horse and it has just taken a long time to get there.
“It’s been a long time coming so I’m so fortunate to have this wonderful horse.”
The horse will now be aimed at Kentucky CCI4* in 2018.
Overnight leaders Juila Krajewski and Chipmunk FRH had one fence in hand, but unfortunately clipped both fence eight and the last to leave them in third.
“I’m not unhappy – I have a nine-year-old horse who did a really super job this weekend,” she said.
“I think both mistakes were because I thought he would push into the fences a bit more, which he can do, but which he didn’t do today.
“I wasn’t quick enough to adjust my plan and it [came down to a matter of] centimetres – there was maybe a total of 4cm missing [from us] in the whole course.
“He really jumped, he felt great today and he will have learnt a lot from this. Coming third is something I am really proud of.”
A clear from Laura Collett and Mr Bass, who were in fourth place after cross-country, saw the combination rise up into second place.
Laura was clearly delighted with the horse.
“He is just an unreal horse – he tried his guts out in there, he does like to make life quite difficult for himself, but he tries and he gets there – he is just amazing,” she said.
Meanwhile Pippa Funnell and the nine-year-old MGH Grafton Street rolled two poles to drop them from second to fifth in the final standings.
Just nine out of 68 starters jumped clear around Di Boddy’s influential showjumping course. The treble proved costly for several combinations, but faults were well spread across the track.
Flora Harris and the neat-jumping Bayano were the first pair inside the top-20 to jump clear, which moved them up from 15th to eighth.
Among the highest climbers after dressage was Italy’s Giovanni Ugolotti with Cult Rewind, who rose from 60th to 16th. Other notable climbers included Lydia Hannon, who came from 40th after dressage with My Royal Touch to finish 11th, and Irelands Ciaran Glynn on November Night, who rose 28 places from 38th to 10th.
Don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound – out Thursday, 21 September – for a full report from Blenheim