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British riders in command at #SYBlenheim

Friday, September 14, 2018 - 17:45

British riders are dominating the CCI3* class at SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials, holding nine of the top 10 places out of 101 starters after dressage.

Bella Innes Ker has retained her first-day lead. Riding the Duchess of Roxburghe’s 14-year-old mare Carolyn, her score of 24.4 gives her a 2.3-penalty advantage over Pippa Funnell (MGH Grafton Street).

Pippa, the mainstay of British international teams for many years, has four SsangYong Blenheim Palace wins under her belt already.

Bella said: “Carolyn is in amazing form. We were 15th here last year and I hope we can go better than that this weekend.”

Third are Kitty King and her 2016 Rio Olympics partner Ceylor Lan with a score of 27 – one mark ahead of world number one Oliver Townend and Ulises.

In the CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-old horses, New Zealand’s James Avery tops the leaderboard with Joe and Alex Giannamore’s eight-year-old Vitali on a mark of 24.2.

He is chased by Britain’s Alex Bragg, second on Shannondale Percy with 26.4.

Alex said: “It’s been a really interesting season with this horse, because we’ve still been trying to progress him through the grades while I try to develop a partnership with him at the same time. We ran him gently at some early three-stars, where he jumped super, and it gave him an idea of the expectations of him coming into the autumn. We reaped the benefits of that approach today.”

Laura Schroter is third with 27.1 aboard Willem Van Wup, while Laura Collett -  second in this class two years ago – holds third and fourth places with Dacapo (27.2) and London 52 (27.5).

Cross-country for the CCI3* starts at 11.45am tomorrow, while the CIC3* competitors showjump in the main Marlborough Arena before that at 8.30am.

There is a full programme of events in the highly popular Attractions Arena, starting at 10am, and excellent children’s entertainment – including Tractor Ted.

The Bladon and Hensington arenas were busy all day long today with the Dodson & Horrell Pony Club Team Eventer Challenge classes at 100cm and 90cm level.

The team from the Staff College and Sandhurst Hunt branch won the 100cm competition with a team consisting of Chloe Peterson, Polly Connell, Jessie Sheffield and Ashley Harrison.

Team manager Emma Newman said: “This team were second last year in the 90cm and were beaten by 0.4 seconds, so we are so pleased to come back this year and win the 100cm competition. Its Ashley’s’ last year in the Pony Club so winning today is a fantastic end to her club career.”

Second were the Avon Vale branch, and the Grafton Hunt branch were third.

The Hambledon Hunt North branch team (Grace Hoarton, Sarah Marshall, Lucy Carter and Rebecca Reilly) took the 90cm class.

Team manager David Thomas said: “Last year was the first time our club entered a team for the Dodson & Horrell Eventer Challenge and we absolutely loved it. Over the past few weeks we have been working hard on practising to keep to the time and we watched a few competitors before it was our turn, so we knew which lines to take. All our hard work paid off, so we are a very happy team!”

Style winners were Cliona Muir (Woodland Hunt branch, 100cm) and Neve Piper (Cambridgeshire Hunt branch, 90cm).

Crowd numbers on the first day of the horse trials (Thursday) were up a remarkable 40% on 201, and a bumper crowd is expected over the weekend to enjoy the lovely weather and SsangYong Blenheim Palace’s many attractions.

To purchase tickets and for more information, visit