|Fidelity Blenheim Horse Trials | Cross Country Day|
This year’s Fidelity Blenheim International Horse Trials, was as good as any I’ve been too over the last 10 years – the weather was the best we’ve seen at a horse trials in the UK all year, and bumper entries for both the CIC & CCI classes, including a few new international faces we’ve not seen on these shores, provided all the thrills & spills you could want from a three star competition. Sadly I only managed to attend on Saturday for the CCI cross country.
|Paul Tapner | Classic XC Position|
Australian man in form, Chris Burton, had led the dressage on the Hanoverian, UnderDiscussion, that he brought with him from Australia, and won Aachen with in the run up to the Olympics. When I saw him about half way round the cross country at the big drop fence they were travelling well, but uncharacteristically for both horse and rider they picked up 20 penalties further on the course, ruling out any chance of holding their lead. Still, with only 8 time penalties, a good dressage score, and a clear show jumping round they managed to stay in the top 20 – pretty unusual in a competitive 3 star.
His countryman, and good friend, Paul Tapner, had a mixed weekend with his two horses. Setting out on his first horse, the stallion Wickstead Didgeridoo, Paul had a sticky moment at the huge ditch early on course, and had an unfortunate fall at the big drop half way round. He followed this up with a masterclass of competitive cross country in his second round on Kilronan, finishing the weekend off with a clear showjumping round to end up 5th. I’ve loved this little grey horse every since seeing them at Gatcombe CIC** & Pau CIC** last year. He possibly heads to Badminton next year now.
|Kitty King & Zidante | Both Producing Consistent Results All Year|
Paul was not the only seasoned eventer to have mixed results over the weekend, and both Andrew Nicholson & Caroline Powell had bad luck in the CCI class, but did well in the 8/9 year-old CIC class. Andrew won that class on his latest rising star Quimbo, fending off William Fox-Pitt, 2nd on Bay My Hero. This CIC class at Blenheim is a good benchmarker for future top class talent, so expect to see a lot more from both of these horses.
Kitty King can hardly put a foot wrong with her horses at the moment, and has produced some of the most consistent performances with her string that we’ve seen from any British rider outside of the natural team contenders. Perhaps the most exciting, and beautiful of her horses is Zidante, who finished once again in the top 5 this year. Normandy & Rio must surely be a very realistic target for Kitty now.
|Emily Beshear | Finished 24th In Her First Blenheim|
The American’s have been creeping up on us over here in the last few year’s and not just because of any prep for the Olympics. Two pretty fresh names to appear in the UK this year are Marilyn Little-Meredith & Emily Beshear. Marilyn sadly didn’t finish on either of her rides, despite some impressive results on home turf earlier in the year, but Emily produced a credible 24th jumping double clear in her first CCI*** in Europe.
|William Fox-Pitt Finishes On His Dressage Mark to Score His 50th Three-Day-Event Win|
Chris Burton’s demise on the cross country left the door open for a number of others closely bunched up behind him in the leaderboard after dressage with sub 40 dressage scores, but of the next three in that list only Tim Boland, managed to complete, albeit with 16.8 time penalties, and both Lucy Weigersma & Ingrid Klimke left the cross country course without completing. This gave William Fox-Pitt the perfect opportunity to pick up his 50th three day event win on Seacookie, and that’s exactly what he did flying round the cross country finishing bang on the optimum time and show jumping clear to complete on his dressage score of 39.0. Perhaps a fitting end to what is the last of the ‘big ticket’ events in the UK, but probably just an other good day at the office for the world’s most successful event rider.
|Big Crowds Once Again At Blenheim|
As each year passes, Blenheim grows in stature and popularity as a spectator destination, held in the most beautiful surroundings you’ll find of any three day event. Set in the grounds of Britain’s most ostentatious country home, birth place of Winston Churchill, and landscaped parklands most will only ever see in TV costume dramas. I have been lucky enough to attend a few events in the palace itself, including an after dinner speech from Bill Clinton & a friends wedding in the Orangery, but I think the horse trials best show off what Blenheim has to offer, and I’m sure this is why we continue to see spectator numbers swell. Long may it continue, for many reasons Blenheim is a special event for me!
|The Final Gallop Back Through The Water|
It’s worth a special trip, so if you’ve never been, go, you won’t be disappointed!