All Pass First Horse Inspection at Inaugural Burnham Market CCI4*-L

Sarah Cohen finds a new way to show off her beaming smile as she presents former Izzy Taylor ride Springpower. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

In a year in which we’ve spent most of our time reminiscing about what should have been, it’s especially poignant to see an event step up to fill a gap and provide the valuable opportunity for riders and owners to give their horses a crucial qualifying run. Although it might mess with our brain-calendars — the 2020 chaotic energy is coming in thick and fast here — that’s exactly what Musketeer Events’ Burnham Market International Horse Trials has done. This week would ordinarily have been the domain of Blenheim, with all its palatial splendour and prestige, while Burnham Market — home to a popular CCI4*-S class — usually slots into the early end of the season in March or April. But this time around, they’ve opened their grounds in September (and put in what we can only assume is a truly colossal amount of effort) to ensure that there’s an autumn CCI4*-L for British-based competitors to gain a crucial qualification for Tokyo next year, while also hosting the much-lauded CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-olds, which is open to horses outside the age range but will be ranked as a separate section.

Eventing in the time of COVID might be a little bit different — there’s no cocktail parties in Winston Churchill’s house this time around, alas — Blenheim-on-Sea, as it’s been dubbed by friend of EN Catherine Austen, offers up plenty of challenges and a friendly, down-to-earth vibe that its many attendees will find very welcome this week. Though it remains closed to spectators, there’s already a vibe in the air, and though everyone’s milling around safely masked up against any airborne invaders, the smiles are evident and widespread. Eventing is back, and everyone’s ready for it.

Victor Burtin and Early Van Ter Nieuwbeke. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

97 horse-and-rider combinations presented to the assembled ground jury, and all were passed through to the first phase of the competition. Just one combination faced a brief hold — France’s Victor Burtin and Early Van Ter Nieuwbeke were sent to the box, but were subsequently accepted upon re-presentation.

Sarah Bullimore’s Corouet is best turned-out horse at the first inspection. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Three prizes were dished out through the course of the afternoon’s proceedings. The prize for the best turned out horse went to Sarah Bullimore and her diminutive homebred Corouet, a nine-year-old Oldenburg out of Sarah’s former top-level ride Lilly Corrinne and by Balou de Rouet. This will be Corouet’s second start at the level — he competed at Boekelo last year and has run three times at CCI4*-S, finishing seventh at Burgham last month.

Sophie Jenman takes the prize for the best-dressed female competitor in a natty jumpsuit. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The best-dressed male prize went to Richard Coney, who presented Kananaskis and Mermus R Diamonds, while Sophie Jenman, who brings forward Lordana VH Leysehof Z, won the prize for the best-dressed female rider.

Tomorrow sees both the CCI4*-L and the CCI4*-S — which incorporates an open section and the section for eight- and nine-year-olds — kick off the dressage phase, with both rings running from 9.00 a.m. local time (4.00 a.m. Eastern). We’ll be bringing you full coverage from each class, but you can also follow along as it happens this weekend, too — Horse & Country TV will be providing comprehensive live-streaming from the jumping phases via a subscription service, available through their website.

In the meantime, enjoy a jam-packed gallery of today’s trot-up action — we’ll be coming at you with everything you need to know tomorrow evening.

Go Eventing!

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