Sarah Carless reports …
Bettina Hoy made history as the first German rider to win the CCI3* at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.
Hoy took the title in style with a clear show jumping round on Seigneur Medicott, finishing more than 10 penalties ahead of New Zealand rider Andrew Nicholson, who rose from fifth after cross-country to take the runner-up spot on his father-in-law Philip Channer’s Tesio.
The German rider has had a long and distinguished career, but this was her first CCI3* win for around a decade and she was thrilled.
“It’s amazing – it’s such a long time since I won anything big and to do it here at Blenheim is very special. What is nice is how pleased everyone is for me. I only compete three horses now, as I am a part-time carer for my parents.”
She revealed that the 10-year-old gelding is for sale and that she is hoping to form a syndicate to buy him as she considers the gelding, which started life as a show jumper, as a contender for next year’s European Championships, and even for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Lydia Hannon retained third place on My Royal Touch to score her best CCI3* result and Nicola Wilson moved up from sixth to fourth with a clear round on Bulana. Hannah Sue Burnett from the USA hit two rails on Harbour Pilot to slip from second to fifth, but collected the prize as the best Blenheim first-timer.
The inaugural Event Rider Master (ERM) series came to a thrilling climax with Frenchman Thoma
s Carlile, who was last out onto the cross-country, snatching the CIC3* win from Oliver Townend, whose second place was good enough to secure the overall series prize.
Carlile had the comfortable cushion of nearly five penalties in hand over Oliver when he set out across country on the eight-year-old grey stallion Upsilon and he came flying home with just 2.4 time penalties to secure the win.
“What a horse,” said Thomas. “I just put him in cruise control. He doesn’t like to touch brush so he does jump very high but he makes up for it with his gallop. He’s been perfect in every way this weekend.”
Townend was thrilled with Cillnabradden Evo, and says the horse seems to have found his niche, having won the ERM legs at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe and Blair Castle. “I’m more than happy with the result. Thomas is a great rider on an unbelievable horse.”
New Zealander Jonelle Price conjured a fast round out of Cloud Dancer II, winner of the young horse CIC3* last year, and finished only one second over the optimum time for third place.
Beanie Sturgis, sixth on Lebowski, and Australian rider Paul Tapner, eighth on Yogi Bear, were the only two riders inside the time.
Twenty-six year old Willa Newton scored one of the biggest wins of her career when capturing the
prestigious CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-old horses.
Willa looks to have an exciting prospect in eight-year-old Caja 20, a Hanoverian-bred mare discovered by German Olympian Dirk Schrade. The pair rose from sixth place after dressage to third with a clear show jumping round and then posted one of the fastest cross-country rounds of the competition.
Overnight leaders Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser had an unfortunate run-out at the first corner fence after the water crossing and Jonelle Price, second, incurred 14 time penalties on Ascona M and dropped to 10th.
It was a British one-two as Laura Collett finished second on her 2015 Le Lion d’Angers winner Mr Bass, one of only three to complete David Evans’s excellent track without time penalties. The others were Andrew Nicholson, third on Swallow Springs, and Oliver Townend, fifth on Cooley SRS.
“I didn’t know about Tom’s run-out when I set out but Chris Bartle came and told me that someone had done the time so I should go for it,” explained Willa. “She felt so confident that I kicked on and she just got better and better.”
Photographs courtesy of Lorraine Porter