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Bella is best at SsangYong Blenheim Palace
British rider Bella Innes Ker tops the leaderboard in the CCI3* class at SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials after the first day of dressage with an outstanding score of 24.4.
Bella, 24, was riding her mother the Duchess of Roxburghe's 14-year-old mare Carolyn.
"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!” said Bella.
Second is Britain's Pippa Funnell, who has won SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials four times, with a mark of 26.7 on Jonathan and Jane Clarke's MGH Grafton Street. And third is Australian rider Amanda Ross (Koko Popping Candy) on 29.6.
New Zealand's James Avery is in the lead in the CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-old horses. He scored a superb 24.2 aboard Joe and Alex Giannamore's Vitali, an eight-year-old by Contender.
"He was focused and enjoyed his job," said James, 25. "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."
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.
Dressage starts again tomorrow (Friday) at 9am.
In the ever-popular Dodson & Horrell Riding Club Eventer Challenge, the team from Banbury’s Crown Riding Club (Morgan Shelley, Zoe Young, Ellen Goodwin and Lauren Shelley) won the 100cm class.
Team manager Lucy Scopes said: “We were the sixth team to ride this morning so we have had a long time to wait for the final scores and we can’t believe we have won! We usually compete in the 90cm Eventer Challenge and for the past two years we have been placed seventh, so we are pleased to do so well at the next level. The team have individually represented the club at championship level so it’s the icing on top to win today.”
Second were the Billericay & District Riding Club team, while Bourne Valley Riding Club took third.
Atherstone & District Riding Club’s team of Sarah Hurley, Heather Wyles, Holly Marsh and Vicky Hulme took the Dodson & Horrell 90cm challenge class.
The Ingastone & Blackmore Riding Club team finished second and third was the Rother Valley Riding Club.
Heather Wyles said: “We have been waiting all day to finally find out that we have won -, it’s certainly been nail-biting! It is very much a replay of 2016 when we won this class, so its brilliant that we have managed to take the title again today.”
The style winners were Ellen Goodwin (Crown Riding Club, 100cm) and Keira Whiteman (Rother Valley Riding Club, 90cm).