It’s a blustery morning at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials – perfect for what can only be referred to as flying an equine kite. Fortunately for collective stress levels, everyone kept hold of said kites. How anyone can trot up a fit event horse while wearing heels remains one of life’s great unsolved mysteries – I suggest a MythBusters-style inquest into the ankle strength and general tenacity of eventing’s leading ladies. The Bionic Birds, if you will. (If you won’t, I understand.)
An astronomical 85 horses were presented at this morning’s first horse inspection for the CCI***, in front of the ground jury of Eric Leiby, Ciska van Meggelen and Jane Tolley. The entry list reads as a who’s-who of international eventing, with legends of the sport and first-timers at the level battling it out for the title at this prestigious event.
Seven American riders will fly the stars and stripes in this class, and all were accepted without incident — despite the wind, crowds and more than one excitable terrier adding a bit of pizzazz to proceedings.
Everyone’s favourite event horse was also presented this morning, to a steady cascade of camera shutters. Cooley Rorkes Drift, known as Art to his friends, is firmly in the spotlight after rider Jonty Evans successfully crowdfunded his purchase. He’ll certainly have earned the prize for being the subject of the most selfies this week – although as a consummate professional, I certainly haven’t been one of those selfie-takers.
Dressage starts today, with Liz Halliday-Sharp riding Carpe Diem IV at 11.37am BST/6.37am EST, and Lauren Kieffer riding Landmarks Monte Carlo at 12.30pm BST/7.30am EST. The remainder of the American contingent in the CCI3* will ride their tests tomorrow:
- Tiana Coudray and Under the Clocks – 9.16am BST/4.16am EST
- Doug Payne and Vandiver – 10.38am BST/5.38am EST
- Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border – 12.24pm BST/7.24am EST
- Hannah Sue Burnett and RF Demeter – 12.32pm BST/7.32am EST
- Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 – 2.38pm BST/9.38am EST
Keep an eye on EN, as we’ll be bringing you updates throughout the week on Twitter and Instagram, as well as full reports of how our riders are getting on in the CCI3*, the finale of the Event Rider Masters series, and the 8/9 year old CIC3*. You’ll be able to follow along with all the action from the cross-country and show jumping phases on BETV’s live stream, too. And, of course, the entirety of the ERM will be broadcast live on Friday and Saturday.