Blenheim CCI*** First Horse Inspection

Raincoats were de rigeur at the First Horse Inspection at the Fidelity Blenheim International Horse Trials CCI*** Wednesday afternoon, as a persistent drizzle set in around lunchtime.  It didn’t deter the North American contingent however, who all passed although Cindy Rawson had a nervous moment when Mocharabuiee was sent to the holding box, and then passed upon re-inspection.  Two others were sent to the holding box too – Polly Jackson’s Papillon who was accepted upon re-inspection, and Jane Emma Riley’s Mystic Promise who was accepted without having to trot again.  Coral Keen’s Wellshead Fare Opposition had to trot twice before passing, and Tom Rowland (Hennessy Cormac) and Rodney Powell (Happy Go Lucky) both had to wait anxiously while the Ground Jury deliberated before accepting them. When all was said and done every horse presented goes forward to the Dressage Phase which begins tomorrow at 9:30am British time with William Fox-Pitt and before time. Jules Stiller will be the first of the US riders to enter the arena at 9:52 on her first horse Sintra BK, and Phillip Dutton rides Team Rebecca’s Ben at 10:30am.

Phillip Dutton and Team Rebecca’s Ben representing TPF and the USA

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen

Cindy Rawson and Mocharabuiee

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate trot up – my personal pick for best dressed, although Uptown Eventing are doing the official honours! Help choose the winner from ten finalists on the Blenheim facebook page.

Jules Stiller and Sintra BK

Alex Peternell’s AP Uprising was causing an uproar in the warm-up field, rearing, snorting and bucking, but behaved beautifully in front of the Ground Jury.

Your Blenheim CCI*** Ground Jury from right to left – Mr Eric Lieby (President), Mr Nick Burton and Ms Lindsay Jenkins

I’m so pleased I’ll get to see Barry’s Best (19 years young and the veteran of so many clears around Badminton xc) in person again this weekend with Rosie Thomas

Veterinary delegate Bob Baskerville

and for Japan!

Running Order looks super with William Fox-Pitt, and I chatted to his groom later at ring familiarisation who told me he’s been going really well at home too.

Another stalwart contender  – Tony Warr and Coolgrange Merger

The inimitable Lucinda Green with her Cry Freedom – what a treat in store for all the spectators this weekend who get to watch such a high quality field of the world’s best.

Of course we’re always happy to see Francis Whittington but perhaps even more excited to meet his baby daughter Amber when she comes to her very first event this weekend – belated congratulations again to Sam and Francis!

Nicola Wilson’s lovely coloured mare Beltane Queen impressed me at Gatcombe earlier this summer, I’m looking forward to seeing them go this weekend.

Jessie Phoenix on Pavarotti and Meghan O’Donoghue on Pirate at ring familiarisation in the rain after the jog

Pavarotti working earlier in the afternoon with Clayton Fredericks. He looks very fit and well, and they worked him pretty hard. If he does his best test here at Blenheim I’d imagine he’d be well up there on the leaderboard.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen re-acquaint themselves with the main arena after finishing 5th here two years ago

Jess Montgomery sits on her own Universe earlier in the day, watching Clark ride Glen with David; how David manages to be everywhere at the right time, helping all the riders in different parts of the park, and staying so cool and calm, and of course as always, perfectly dressed for the weather, is due in no small  part to Joanie Morris’ incredible organisation. The US camp wants for nothing thanks to Joanie’s foresight and good planning, and the mood is happy and optimistic so far – long may it continue!

A quiet moment for two French horses

The ground crew have been watering non-stop and doing everything humanly possible to provide the very best footing they can out on the cross country course, but in fact the persistent, soaking drizzle that continues Thursday morning may be the best solution of all!  The entire event staff couldn’t be more friendly and helpful, and I only wish that we had longer here so that I could see a bit of everything – there’s a jam packed schedule in the “Learning Area”, all sorts of fun stuff in the ‘Blenheim Arena’, and of course the CIC*** for 8 and 9 year olds that runs alongside the CCI***. For now though, we’re excited about dressage getting underway shortly, and we’ll bring you as much as we can from Blenheim throughout the next few days. Thanks as always for reading and GO the Fidelity Blenheim International Horse Trials!

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