Leading eventers have shared their thoughts on David Evans’ 2017 Blenheim tracks ahead of the first day of cross-country.
Riders in the CCI3* will be the first on course today (Saturday, 16 September), followed by the Event Rider Masters (ERM) section this afternoon.
New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson has been drawn as the first rider to go at 9am with Urma BK, with whom he is lying equal-18th after dressage.
Overnight leader Julia Krajewski (Chipmunk FRH) and second-placed Pippa Funnell (MGH Grafton Street) are drawn to start within minutes of each other at 12.45pm and 12.48pm.
Pippa is also lying sixth in the ERM with Chippieh.
“Blenheim is always quite a tough track with the undulation and the hills,” she told H&H.
“Where some of the fences are more complicated is in some of the distances, so you have to be pretty switched on where you might end up adding or taking strides out.
“You have to use your head the whole way round, particularly at the lake.”
Julia added she is looking forward to taking on Blenheim’s “big and challenging” CCI3* course.
“I chose the course because Chipmunk likes to gallop and he tends to get a bit strong when I have to turn really fast and often, so I hope the course will suit him,” she said.
Meanwhile, the startlist for the ERM cross-country will not be decided until after competitors have showjumped.
The ERM showjumping runs from 10.30am-noon in the main arena. After this, the cross-country start times will be revealed with the top-20 running in reverse order.
Francis Whittington, who is in 24th position overnight with Hasty Imp, said he thinks the track looks “exciting to ride”.
“The second to last I am certain will catch out a number of riders – I just hope I’m not one of them!” he said.
Don’t miss next week’s issue of Horse & Hound – out Thursday, 21 September – for a full report from the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials