Competition gets underway at SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials

Sarah Carless ..

Competition at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials got underway today with 180 horses competing in dressage, show jumping and cross country over the next four days.

In the CCI*** it was young rider Bella Innes Ker who took the lead at the end of the first day with her mother the Duchess of Roxburghe’s 14-year-old mare Carolyn. Their score of 24.4 puts them 2.3 penalties ahead of the field.

The 24-year old said: “She’s in amazing form. On her best day she is a smart dressage diva – she’s fabulous in this sphere, and I just wanted to do her justice. We call her ‘Princess’ at home – she is one in every way; it’s her way or the highway!”

Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street

British Olympian Pippa Funnell, who has won SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials four times, holds second place with MGH Grafton Street (26.7) whilst Australian rider Amanda Ross holds third with Koko Popping Candy (29.4).

There are some strong combinations who will come before the dressage judges tomorrow with Kitty King (Ceylor LAN), William Fox-Pitt (Oratorio II), Pippa Funnell (Billy Walk On) and Oliver Townend (Ulises) amongst the contenders.

British rider Laura Collett took second place on Dacapo with a mark of 27.2, while Pippa Funnell and Maybach are just behind with 27.9.

Since its introduction back in 2009, the CIC*** for eight- and nine-year olds has become hotly contested with 90 of the best young eventing superstars taking part in this year’s competition.

Laura Collett took second place on Dacapo

At the end of the first day, New Zealander James every took the lead with Vitali on a score of 24.2. The pair have great form having come 7that Le Lion D’Angers last year and have already scooped at Rockingham Castle’s CIC** this year following it up with seventh at Tattersalls CCI** in May.

James commented on his test, saying: “He was focused and enjoyed his job. He’s been going very well at home, and we were able to go into the ring and do what we’ve practised. He loves his work, but he can be cheeky – he likes to make sure you’re switched on.”

Combinations to watch out for tomorrow include Zara Tindall with Class Affair, Alexander Whewall and Ellfield Voyager, Zoe Wilkinson and Shannondale Coco, Izzy Taylor and Spring Power and Laura Collett’s second rider London 52.

In the ever-popular Dodson & Horrell Riding Club Eventer Challenge, the team from Banbury’s Crown Riding Club won the 100cm class whilst Atherstone & District Riding Club won the Dodson & Horrell 90cm challenge class. The style winners were Ellen Goodwin (Crown Riding Club, 100cm) and Keira Whiteman (Rother Valley Riding Club, 90cm).