Izzy Taylor is the rider to catch as the SsangYong Blenheim International Horse Trials leg of the Event Rider Masters’ (ERM) series heads into the jumping phases.
Izzy was the penultimate rider to go and sprang into the lead with a wow-factor test aboard the 11-year-old Be Touchable, which the judges rewarded with a score of 35.7.
“He was fantastic,” Izzy told H&H. “He is a very exuberant horse, very beautiful to look at – he has always had the potential to go and do a good test and this year he has been pretty consistent.”
The 16.hh gelding, by Untouchable, won the CIC3* at Millstreet in August and finished runner-up at Cappoquin CIC3* in July.
“He is a real character, he loves the attention – he is a real showman, somewhere like this with the backdrop of the palace and the big atmosphere, he really rises to.”
Be Touchable is owned by Sophie Dodds, who took the horse up to one-star level.
Sophie bought the horse as a four-year-old and he took her around her first intermediate at Burgham in 2015, where they finished second, before she handed the reins over to Izzy.
“I set out to find a 14-year-old schoolmaster, and I came out with a rising-four warmblood!” said Sophie.
“He took me around [my first] intermediate, I was very nervous and he basically said ‘mum hold on, this is easy,’ and we knew that he could keep going.”
Eight combinations produced sub-40 tests and the top-end of the leaderboard changed constantly throughout the afternoon.
Lunchtime leaders Sarah Bullimore and Lilly Corinne dropped down to 12th by the end of the day.
Alex Hua Tian (Don Geniro) and Shane Rose (CP Qualified) took turns as leader with both of their horses producing personal bests at this level.
Alex and Shane finish the day in third and second place respectively on scores of 36.4 and 35.8.
Meanwhile, series winner Gemma Tattersall admitted she was “a little bit disappointed” with her test aboard her Bramham 2016 CIC3* winner Chico Bella P, which left them in 13th place on a score of 43.2 penalties.
There was also discrepancy between the judges, with one awarding her 38.9 penalties while she received a score of 50.2 from another.
“Chico Bella is lovely to ride, today she just dropped off me a couple of times and that was really, really costly,” said Gemma.
“One of the judges had me a lot, lot lower than the other two, which obviously affects the marking, but I’m very happy to be here and very happy to be riding Chico Bella.
“It is amazing to be here having won already, so I’m here just to enjoy riding a lovely horse at Blenheim.”
The ERM showjumping starts tomorrow (Saturday, 16 September) at 10.30am, with the ERM cross-country commencing at 2.45pm.
Don’t miss next week’s Horse & Hound – out Thursday, 21 September – for a full report from Blenheim