World class dressage performed in tails and braids has a whole new depth when performed on the grounds of a 12th century castle in the Scottish countryside! Such was the backdrop for the penultimate leg of the Event Rider Masters Series at the Blair Castle Equitrek International Horse Trials earlier today. Though no Americans are campaigning this leg of the ERM, there’s a great deal of excitement over a lineup that includes recently returned Olympians and many of Europe’s top riders.
Bettina Hoy of Germany came out guns blazing and delivered the only dressage test that broke into the thirties to put her and Seigneur Medicott in first place by more than eight points. The longtime partners capitalized on their years of experience and trust in a high energy environment and laid down a test Bettina beamed about.
“He is beautifully consistent to ride, what he produces outside the arena he does inside,” Bettina said. “I am so pleased with him, as I noticed some horses got affected by the atmosphere here and the cross-country also runs close to the warm up area, which can take away their concentration, but he coped wonderfully. I am really looking forward to tomorrow, the cross-country is a proper test but it’s a lovely track and I certainly hope to be in this same position on Sunday evening”.
Following Bettina in second place is Oliver Townend (GBR), a regular face on the ERM tour and winner of the last leg at Gatcombe. He’s also returned with the same horse from that leg, Cillnabradden Evo, who Oliver may be hoping will be a good luck charm in Blair Castle and move him up the series standings.
“We were in second after dressage at Gatcombe and then won, so I am feeling pretty comfortable ahead of tomorrow.
“I was chasing the Olympic dream earlier in the year and perhaps I should have focused on this series, as now I have, the results are starting to come. The horse was a hero at Gatcombe and I’ll be hoping for the same if not a better performance from him this weekend.”
Jonelle Price of New Zealand, fresh off her 17th place individual finish in Rio, sits in third place aboard the aptly named Cloud Dancer, who floated through his test with just a small bump along the way.
“He is a capable horse and he is certainly fit as he is normally very reliable in the walk but he was excited today and jogged, which cost us some valuable marks,” Jonelle said. “I am bit frustrated but also proud of him, as he showed some pizzazz out there and hopefully he will think about that when digging up the hills of Blair tomorrow.”
Current leader of the Event Rider Master Series Paul Tapner (AUS) is in tenth going into the jumping phases aboard the Irish-bred Kilronan, but Paul has made it a habit over this series of moving up fast and quick on the second day. Paul has a 21-point lead on his nearest competitor Gemma Tattersall (GBR), but two legs is still enough time for multiple eventualities to play out. (Gemma and her mount Santiago Bay currently sit in 17th.)
Show Jumping and Cross Country take place tomorrow, with the top twenty combinations tackling cross country in reverse order of standing. Show jumping starts at 10:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. ET) and cross country at 1:45 p.m. (8:35 a.m. ET). Both can be livestreamed for free at eventridermasters.tv/watch.
We’ll be bringing you a full report Sunday afternoon, so keep it locked on EN!
Top 20 in Event Rider Masters Division After Dressage: