Phillip Dutton and Ben posted a solid clear round with 27.2 time faults. Phillip spoke to Rupert Bell on completing and you can listen to his interview here. Despite losing a shoe early on, Phillip said Ben jumped well and never stopped trying the entire trip, and is delighted with the way he coped with the big track. “The ground is great, it’s good and safe, the take-offs for all the jumps are good but obviously it’s a little bit holding when you’re galloping in between the fences. This horse is coming off an injury last year and I was a little unsure how much I’d have left at about the 8 minute mark so in hindsight I probably set off a little bit too quiet but he got home safe and healthy, and he’ll be better for it the next time. It’s a good track, you’ve got to work the whole way round and there isn’t a single place where you can just relax and take it easy.”
When asked about US team strategy here at Blenheim, Phillip replied wryly, “The team process is we need to get better! Obviously England is the heart of eventing and I think we need to get over here as often as we can and strive to improve and be more competitive, and Blenheim’s a great place to do that.” On Ben, “He’s a full warmblood so he’s not the fastest horse I’ve ever ridden but he’s very good on the flat and a he’s good jumper so we’ll see. He came into the sport quite late, this is only his third three day so we’re still trying to get that fitness base and getting him to understand the game.”
Problems have been spread out all over the course but the two brush corners at 5A and B have definitely been influential. First to go for the USA, Jules Stiller was having a great go on Sintra BK but picked up a 20 two fences from home. Jessie Phoenix looked to be having a super ride on Pavarotti everywhere we saw them, and came home clear with about 17 time penalties.
Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen looked fabulous everywhere we saw them, and Jess told me Glen pulled up super. They moved into a brief lead with the fastest time of the day at that point, but sadly it was short-lived; Jean Teulere rode Matelot Du Grand Val a few horses later and although they both finish the day on the same score Jean Teulere was 0.4 faster and therefore closer to the optimum time and thus move into first place overnight so far. Much more from Clark later, and of course the other American riders, but rushing off to catch Megan who goes shortly. Best of luck to Team USA at the Fidelity Blenheim International Horse Trials – Go Eventing!