A smooth test from Germany’s Julia Krajewski and Chipmunk FRH in the SsangYong Blenheim International Horse Trials CCI3* took the pair firmly into the lead ahead of cross-country.
The combination, who were among the last to go on the final day of CCI3* dressage, sailed into the top spot on 33.4, despite a small mistake in the second pirouette.
This puts them more than two penalties ahead of second-placed Pippa Funnell on MGH Grafton Street on 35.7.
In third is the USA’s Kimberly Severson with Cooley Cross Border, who led for much of the afternoon after a classy performance earned them a score of 37.8 penalties from the judges.
A total of seven combinations pulled out sub-40 dressage tests, including overnight leaders Kitty King and Vendredi Biats, who now lie in fourth.
Rio 2016 Olympic team silver medallist Julia was full of praise for “Chip” – a horse she has produced from a four-year-old.
“It is a relief when you produce something [you know is] possible for the horse, so I’m really happy I could do that here,” she said.
“He has done tests like this before, but he isn’t ‘push a button and end up in the 30s’, we really have to work for it – I’m really happy for the horse, the owner and myself that we could do it here.”
This is the first Blenheim for Julia and the nine-year-old gelding, owned by Dr Hilmer Meyer-Kulenkampff, but the combination have serious international form.
The pair won Strzegom CCI3* in October last year and have not finished lower than seventh in any of their international starts this year.
“Like always on the big occasions, it is about getting everything right on the right day and I wished – especially for the owner – that we can produce it here this week, but you never know,” she smiled.
Julia added she is “excited” to take on Blenheim’s “big and challenging” cross-country track, which she hopes will suit the horse.
“I think [course designer] David Evans did a really intelligent job in putting all the technical questions somewhere special – he hasn’t put them flat on the ground, they are into the forest or up a hill,” she said.
“I chose the course because Chipmunk likes to gallop, he tends to get a bit strong when I have to turn really fast and often, so I hope the course will suit him – but he has never done something like this before so we will see.”
Julia will be among the last riders to go on Saturday, which she cites as “a good thing and a bad thing” in seeing how the course is riding.
She also stressed that the horse’s wellbeing is her priority, adding she wants to ensure he develops into a good horse in the future.
“Yes he is a good horse, but for me he is ‘Chip’, the horse I have at home day in, day out, and I want to make sure that he is happy,” she said.
Don’t miss next week’s issue of Horse & Hound – out Thursday, 21 September, for a full report from Blenheim