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42 Horses Go Forward to Show Jump at European Championships

Denmark's Hanne Wind Ramsgard won our hearts yesterday when her joy at completing the Blair Castle European Championship cross country course was so obvious, punching the air, and shouting for joy. Then she came into the mixed zone and told FEI TV that the VIkings had been coming over to England in the storms and awful weather for centuries! Today we loved her again for her love for her horse, Vestervangs Arami, and her love for the game. Photo by Samantha Clark. Denmark's Hanne Wind Ramsgard won our hearts yesterday when her joy at completing the Blair Castle European Championship cross country course was so obvious, punching the air, and shouting for joy. Then she came into the mixed zone and told FEI TV that the VIkings had been coming over to England in the storms and awful weather for centuries! Today we loved her again for her love for her horse, Vestervangs Arami, and her love for the game. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Forty-four horses presented at the Final Horse Inspection this morning at Blair Castle after Team GBR combinations Wills Oakden and Greystone  Midnight Melody withdrew beforehand.

Izzy Taylor and Guy Avis' KBIS Briarlands Matilda lie 3rd going into show-jumping Blair Castle European Championships

Izzy Taylor and Guy Avis’ KBIS Briarlands Matilda lie 3rd going into show-jumping Blair Castle European Championships. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Three horses were sent to the holding box – Oliver Townend’s Fenya’s Elegance who was then accepted on re-inspection, the Russian combination Boris Vasilev and Nabludatel, and the Spanish pair Albert Hermoso Farras and Mirla CP 27 59 who both subsequently withdrew.

Kitty King and Persimmon impress on their Team GBR senior debut, lying 5th individually going into show-jumping at Blair Castle European Championships and Team Silver position after cross country. They were pathfinders for the team and jumped a solid clear XC

Kitty King and Persimmon impress on their Team GBR senior debut, lying 5th individually going into show-jumping at Blair Castle European Championships and team silver position after cross country. They were pathfinders for the team and jumped a solid clear cross country. Photo by Samantha Clark.

The remaining Team GBR horses all looked fabulous and passed to loud applause. Izzy Taylor’s KBIS Briarlands Matilda was a cool customer while Gemma Tattersall’s Arctic Soul and Sarah Bullimore’s Lilly Corrinne were both still very fresh.

A very fresh Lilly Corinne with Sarah Bullimore Sunday Morning at Blair Castle European Championships

A very fresh Lilly Corinne with Sarah Bullimore Sunday Morning at Blair Castle European Championships. Photo by Samantha Clark.

The German team looked like they were just starting the event, and once again FischerTakinou was trotted up by groom Julia Harsch.

Laura Collett and Grand Manoeuvre lying in 9th place going forward to show-jumping European Championships Blair Castle after a super round XC

Laura Collett and Grand Manoeuvre lying in 9th place going forward to show-jumping European Championships Blair Castle after a super round cross country. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Props to the girls who wore short skirts on this chilly Scottish morning, and to the men who wore kilts.

Italian individuals Emiliano Portale and Rubens delle Sementarecce jumped one of the most stylish clear rounds XC saturday at Blair Castle European Championships despite a lentghy  holdy on course

Italian individuals Emiliano Portale and Rubens delle Sementarecce jumped one of the most stylish clear rounds cross country Saturday at Blair Castle European Championships despite a lengthy hold on course. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Show-jumping begins at 11:30 for the first session and then the final group at 2:05. We’ll be back later with much more from Blair Castle hopefully.

Camilla Speirs and Portersize Just A Jiff gettin ready to complete their NINTH championship together

Camilla Speirs and Portersize Just A Jiff getting ready to complete their NINTH championship together. Photo by Samantha Clark.

In the meantime, Go the European Championships and Go Eventing!

Sam Watson and Horseware Lukeswell for Ireland

Sam Watson and Horseware Lukeswell for Ireland. Photo by Samantha Clark.

#Blair2015: Website, Schedule, Live Scores, FEI TVCourse Preview, EN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram, @samanthalclark

Delight and Disappointments On Cross Country at Blair

Michael Jung and fischerTakinou. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Michael Jung and fischerTakinou. Photo by Samantha Clark.

In what’s becoming a re-occurring theme, Michael Jung jumped clear inside the time cross country today, this time on the youngest horse in the field, the 8-year-old chestnut fischerTakinou, in pretty appalling conditions to take the overnight lead. Once again the Germans are in the lead going into the show-jumping after five of their six team members came home with clear rounds.

There were three clears inside the time today, 35 clear jumping rounds, ten riders with one stop, 45 finished, five retired, and 14 eliminated from 64 starters. After two members of each team had gone, there was a hold on course while stone was put down in front of the Neeps, Haggis and Tatties fence at 21ab and 22 due to three falls in a row there, but after two further riders the Haggis (the middle element) was removed. All the riders agreed this was the right decision (Ian Stark’s decision) as the ground was so slick there, and it was just getting worse. Lucinda Green’s rider Daniel Dunst was an unfortunate victim of the Haggis before it was removed. The second corner in the arena was the most influential fence on course with nine problems there.

Whereas British team orders, especially for first rider out Kitty King were definitely to go clear, and she did that, riding the long way at both waters to see how long it would take and to get a clear under their belts, Michael Jung seemed to defy the conditions and the instructions that the Germans had specifically said they were under the night before to be careful, to not get complacent, and he flew around on on his customary longer reins on fischerTakinou, no breastplaste, no martingale, riding him boldy and bravely as if it were perfect going and nothing were at stake at all. To give both Michael and the horse his due, FischerTakinou responded, galloping and jumping better and better as he went round, and it took Michael two circuits to pull him up at the finish.

At the finish he was as usual upbeat and positive but laid-back about his success. “He was very nice, it felt easy, he’s a very, very talented horse with not very much experience so sometimes he needs a bit more help. He was very focused and galloping very well and he gave me a very good feeling and everything worked perfectly so I took all the direct ways. I hate the rain, I never like riding in the rain but when you’re galloping and you feel the horse and you’re on the cross country then you’re so focused you don’t always feel it.

“My horse had no problems with the rain or the wet, he was concentrating and listening to me and did everything I asked. Normally I have a breastplate but I thought today with all the ups and downs I think you need very good the shoulder but I think sometimes it’s a little thing in the head, it works also! This is amazing, an 8-year-old horse, so talented, so strong on the cross country, so good in the dressage, it’s a fantastic feeling, for the future it’s very important.” Another Sam? “Maybe…every horse is different, you cannot find a second Sam but he’s definitely a horse for the future.”

Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo moved into second place behind teammates Michael Jung after a long hold on course saw them finish with 11.2 time faults which she is currently contesting. “He  made it very easy for me, he’s a very good jumper, he was concentrating, it was fun to ride. Everything went to my plan, my horse did a great job, I’m so happy to ride him. The ground was good to ride, I felt really fast.”

Great Britain's trailblazer Kitty King gives teammate Nicola Wilson advice before she heads out on course. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Great Britain’s trailblazer Kitty King gives teammate Nicola Wilson advice before she heads out on course. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Izzy Taylor rocketed up the leaderboard with a stylish clear inside the time on KBIS Briarlands Matilda. Both the mare and Izzy go hunting regularly, and Izzy was the only rider to complete both her horses round Badminton last year so today was right up her alley. In her trademark quiet but effective manner she rode a stylish and economical round with just one nasty moment when Matilda tripped before the second last and she now sits in third place going into the show-jumping tomorrow. Izzy was another to be held right before she started.

“It’s always tricky being held whether you’re on course or about to go, but luckily we’re used to those situations, it was just quite cold for us and a bit of worry for the horse with her being a mare you don’t want her to get cold and her muscles to get sore so they can’t gallop and jump as well as they should do. She is a fantastic cross country horse and she really was great today. I just went out there and rode the course as I found it. I hoped being at Blair it would be a good cross country competition, that the time would be influential and the weather definitely played a big part in that and I was on the right horse today.”

Frenchman Lt Col Thibault Vallette went early and clear with just 8.4 time to move into 4th place overnight, proving that plenty of the direct routes could be done, and Kitty King rode to team orders to get the job done, riding carefully and precisely to bring a keen Persimmon home clear also with 8.4 time to lie 5th. “I wasn’t expecting to be pathfinder the for the team and it took me a little while to get my head around it. I was more nervous this morning than I’d normally be but I actually really enjoyed going out first. I didn’t know what was going on out on the track, it meant I could just ride my horse as I found him and do my job,” Kitty said.

“I was asked to go long at the first water just because it’s a tough question and Percy can be a little feisty and that upright rail in the bottom would be the type of fence that he might make an error at from being over-bold and over-keen, so it was team orders to go long and I think they wanted to find out how long it would take, whether it was very costly, to see what they tell the other riders to do. The coffin was fairly eventful but we got through it and at the end of the day like Yogi says it’s not what you look like as long as you go through the flags and he did that, but it was definitely a bit of a rollercoaster but apart from that he was pretty brilliant.”

Ingrid Klimke had to wait until the very end of the day to take her ‘hunter’ Horseware Hale Bob round by which time the ground had really deteriorated; she had mentioned yesterday that his hunting experience as a youngster would stand him in good stead and he did indeed look quite comfortable today, skipping around on top of the ground as if he was going around a pony club course, but Ingrid said it was actually pretty bad. “I was very happy because Horseware Hale Bob did a fantastic job, he was full of himself running and jumping and looking and I was very pleased. The ground was, I must honestly say, horrible. It was deep everywhere, you couldn’t really avoid it, I tried to go left and right, to change tracks but there was no chance, it was just all over the place too deep. He was fantastic, he was so good and balanced, I was really happy. After seeing it the whole day I thought it would be harder, the only hard thing was the ground, the fences was really fun.”

Gemma Tattersall didn’t disappoint with a fast clear inside the time to move up to seventh place overnight on her OTTB Arctic Soul. Since Burghley last year Gemma said he’s improved more, and getting easier to ride. “Everything rode as I thought. He’s just fantastic, he’s like a cat for such a massive, big Thoroughbred. He was only 11 last year and he didn’t start eventing until he was eight so he’s done pretty well to get to where he’s got to in such a short space of time, and now he’s pretty established at the level and he’s so confident, he knows that he can come back to me, he doesn’t have to rush.”

Dirk Schrade and Hop And Skip in 8th with a clear round and 5.2 time faults are the German team drop score which shows you just how far ahead they are. Germany lead on 122.7 from Great Britain on 169.3, and France are in 3rd on 179.7. The Netherlands are in 4th on 209.3 and Sweden is in 5th on 247.8 which mean that at the moment France and Sweden are in the hot spots for qualification for Rio next year, but Spain is right behind Sweden in 6th place on 253.8 so tomorrow will be a tense day all round (except for Germany probably!).

Pippa Funnell and Sandman 7. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Pippa Funnell and Sandman 7. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Laura Collett rode a class round on Grand Manoeuvre to bring him home clear with 10.8 time and they’re now just inside the top 10 in 9th place and she professed herself rightfully chuffed with the horse. Right behind her and equally delighted was an emotional Pippa Funnell who steered a green Sandman 7 round clear and is now in 10th place; close to tears when she pulled up she admitted she was in two minds about whether this was too big a question for such a genuine but relatively inexperienced horse that she thinks so much of, and that she’d ridden the course for her mentor and part-owner Ruth McMullen who couldn’t be here today.

“I’ve probably felt more nervous about this Championship than any other because Redesigned was so different, he was SO exceptionally bold cross country, he’d jump anything from anywhere, and this horse has been but he’s careful, he’s bold but he wouldn’t be the same sort of horse as Redesigned so I felt I had a lot more at stake because I feel with Redesigned he wouldn’t be so easily put off, he’d jump anything, whereas this horse it could have gone either way.” Sandman did look fabulous, ears pricked the whole way round and looking keenly for the next fence, he didn’t seem phased at all by the weather, the footing or the course and took on the direct routes with gusto – what an exciting prospect for Pippa and Team GBR along with Billy the Biz who goes to Blenheim next week.

Unhappier rounds for Team GBR were Nicola Wilson’s on One Two Many – an inexplicable run out at the second corner in the arena while they were going so beautifully dropped them from 4th after dressage down to 28th, “He was giving me such a super ride, he felt great, he jumped the first corner really well and we turned onto the second corner, the line felt great, we had a great take off corner and for some reason I just don’t think he actually properly clocked onto it and it isn’t like him at all to duck out like that and I just genuinely think he wasn’t properly looking at what he was meant to be doing.”

Holly Woodhead had an early drive-by at The Bothys, Fence 4ABC when DHI Lupison just didn’t lock on, “I had him a little bit too much coming in to the first part, and then I probably should have given him a little bit more time to see the second part because he’s such a good jumper, it’s just quite a tight angle and I didn’t really help him out, and I think he was jut looking at the cameraman on the left rather than the fence. The rest of the course was amazing, he was brilliant, I learnt a lot from it. You live and learn.”

Francis Whittington’s Easy Target was never going to love this weather or the terrain and by the time he got to the arena he was looking tired. Francis nursed him through the Malcom Loch and Water but when he ground to a halt at the Neeps, Haggis and Tatties at Fence 21 he sensibly called it a day and retired.

William Fox-Pitt’s Bay My Hero should have found this track relatively easy but he said he never enjoyed the footing, going as he did at the very end of the day; and he looked to be hating it, giving the fences no room at all instead of his usual extravagant and exuberant shape over a jump; they took the slightly  longer way at the corners in the arena and then shockingly Bay My Hero ran out, twice, at the innocuous skinny brush fence at 17, a clear sign that he’d had enough, and William put his hand up and walked home. “This wasn’t his day, it was very tough ground for him. He’s never made a mistake cross country in his life and I think it reflected how he was feeling.”

Holly Woodhead and DHI Lupison. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Holly Woodhead and DHI Lupison. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Sarah Bullimore, a last minute call-up to the team was kicking herself for a run out The Bothy, fence 4C on Lily Corinne. “I’m gutted. She is a lovely horse, I wanted to come here and really show what we could do and I’ve had so many lovely well wishes that it would have been great to have been able to repay their faith so I feel like I’ve let everyone down a little bit, but I’m chuffed with the mare, she’s been great, but I’m obviously I’m gutted.”

Oliver Townend was flying round on Fenya’s Elegance, with her tongue flapping the whole way round, until the brush corner at Malcolm’s Loch and Water at 19 where the mare just ran past it; she could have tried a bit harder for Oliver and he was clearly disappointed as he would have made the time easily. “She’s a good mare, there’s no doubt that there’s no lack of talent; obviously she’s lost her way in recent times with life but at the same time she’s got enough experience I just think at times she could be a little bit more generous, but she wasn’t this time. You learn more every time you ride around a serious course on them but I can’t see myself having a lot of time to learn, she’s only got a few more big runs left I would have thought before she retires to stud and I think that she’ll need to buck her ideas up very soon but I can easily see her doing something very special and pulling it off but she’s certainly a character.”

Team GBR coach and Chef D’Equipe Yogi Breisner remains positive despite the day’s disappointments and the disgusting weather. “I think we have learned a lot. There are riders that we wanted to give Championship experience and we have done that, and there have been one or two horses that have come here with very good form, and there have been one or two that have had inexperienced run-outs like Lily Corinne had, or Holly Woodhead, or Oliver Townend had but it’s good to be able to give them experience and learn things. Unfortunately the weather was such that we couldn’t learn as much as we hoped to, but that’s our sport. You can get it wet in Rio but you will basically have things on a much firmer footing and it will be a much different type of course, it will be a Pierre Michelet course compared to an Ian Stark course. I think he built a great track today, I think he’s had a very, very good result, it’s been an exciting competition and once the weather set in like it did it was always going to be tougher, but we had it tough in Haras Du Pins last year.”

Thomas Carlile rode a lovely round on his 9-year-old young horse Champion Sirocco Du Gers, following team orders to play safe and come home clear. A standout for Italy was Emiliano Portale on Rubens delle Sementarecce who was held for a long time but coped beautifully; his round was one of the nicest of the day. The two Irish individuals Camilla Speirs on Portersize Just A Jif and Sam Watson on Horseware Lukeswell were also wonderful to watch, one on one of the smallest and most experienced horses in the field, the other on a relatively novice horse, look out for a video interview with Sam and Camilla tomorrow morning hopefully (wifi allowing!) The Irish team did not fare so well with Joseph Murphy falling at the Neeps, Haggis and Tatties, Padraigh McCarthy falling at the corners in the arena, and Austin O’Connor coming to grief at the Malcolm Loch and Water.

There’s much more I’d like to share from today’s action but it’s dark and cold, and so little wifi! The Final Horse Inspection is tomorrow at 9:15am, we’ll be on site to bring you as much as we can, and show jumping finale from the FEI Longines European Championships at Blair Castle. Congratulations to everyone who made it today, it was a complete test. We saw some very exciting horses for the future and some really talented riders, despite the rain it was a great day. Well done to all the grooms, what a massive task in the cold and mud, I hope they are tucked up warm soon, likewise the horses and riders. A good night’s rest to all, and the volunteers who stood in the weather all day long – thank you and Go Eventing!

#Blair2015: Website, Schedule, Live Scores, FEI TVCourse Preview, EN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram, @samanthalclark

Let’s Get to Know Holly Woodhead

Holly Woodhead and DHI Lupison stun on their Team GBR senior debut slipping into 2nd place after dressage

Holly Woodhead and DHI Lupison stun on their Team GBR senior debut slipping into 2nd place after dressage. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Holly Woodhead is leading the Team GBR charge here at the Longines FEI European Championships at Blair Castle on her father Ian and step-mother Heidi’s DHI Lupison. At 21 it’s her first call up to the British team after winning the U25 CCI3* at Bramham earlier this year, and she’s off to a good start, sandwiched in second place after dressage between World Champion Sandra Auffarth and Olympic Champion Michael Jung! She kindly took some time to chat on the eve of cross country so that we could all get to know her a bit better….

Wishing Holly and Luke the very best of luck today, and tomorrow, and looking forward to following them for a long time to come. Go Team GBR!

#Blair2015: Website, Schedule, Live Scores, FEI TVCourse Preview, EN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram, @samanthalclark

Lucinda Green MBE Reviews Burghley, Previews Blair Castle Europeans

The legendary Lucinda Green. Photo by Samantha Clark. The legendary Lucinda Green. Photo by Samantha Clark.

We couldn’t be luckier or more grateful to have Lucinda Green take some time again to share her thoughts on last week’s Burghley CCI4* cross country and look ahead to today’s Blair Castle European Championship cross country track. Multiple Team and Individual European Champion herself, Lucinda is here as a coach this weekend to sole Austrian competitor Daniel Dunst riding Daiquiri Key West so as usual she has a unique perspective.

“Burghley was every bit as exciting as I’ve ever known any Burghley, simply because I was on the edge of my seat thinking the course was a little bit too tiring and possibly a little bit too difficult, and thinking we hadn’t had enough training in our advanced events; anyhow so proved wrong because they were all fit enough, all but a couple really came through the finish well and jumped well the next day, and 42 clear rounds or something but only two inside the time so we see which way the sport is going.

“I think we’ve been seeing it for some time but if the four star can stay at this higher level which it started to do last year at Badminton – Badminton a little bit let us down again this year but that was because poor (course designer) Guiseppe (della Chiesa) got so much criticism for too difficult a course that he just thought ok I’ll just get their confidence back and then hopefully next year it will be a proper four star again – I think if we can keep the top end of the sport at a very high level it will trickle down and encourage the course designers to be a little bit braver at the lower levels; at the moment the three star is almost a different sport than a four star, it’s more motivated by dressage and show-jumping which is a very important part but it shouldn’t be the all-important part.

“The course at Blair is absolutely fascinating, it couldn’t be more different to the one at Burghley, a little bit nearer to the one at Chatsworth but nothing like so big. That’s probably a good thing because we’ve got quite a lot of countries here who aren’t experienced, and I help look after one of them (Austria) and for them I’d like to think it’s a brilliant course because they’ll learn an enormous amount even if they don’t get all the way round it, and it’s not too big. How it will test the top levels of which there are also plenty here, I’m not sure. Again, I would have thought it could be a very tiring course, it’s a different sort of hills to Burghley but having seen them so fresh at Burghley I’m tending to think people have cracked the fitness after getting a fright at Badminton last year when quite a few weren’t fit enough so maybe the endurance side of this won’t be so great.

“I think it will still be quite difficult to get the time, I do hope so, it’s historic at Blair that it’s impossible to get the time I think, maybe the exceptional few like at Gatcombe, so that could make it really exciting at the top end whilst giving the nations that are really needing the experience the chance to get it and not be thrown out at the fifth fence. I think possibly Ian has been incredibly clever but we’ll watch this space….”

Nico Morgan.">Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch at Burghley 2015. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch at Burghley 2015. Photo by Nico Morgan.

In the years since Lucinda competed, eventing has seen a sea change in so many ways, but perhaps courses are beginning to come full circle and we’re seeing a return to something akin to something of the more old-fashioned style.

“Burghley Europeans was small one year, I remember because I nearly won the dressage so I was able to win, it was small and disappointing for Burghley, whereas Luhmühlen Europeans was quite often absolutely enormous and Lausanne in Switzerland was also a cross country test; what we call enormous then may not look enormous now. In the seventies when you look at past videos things were so small but at that time they were as difficult as any of us had ever met. In the eighties you look at it and actually it looks big, and difficult; ’76 Montreal looked impossible, I watched it the other night! What I think Ian’s got here which is what we often lose on cross country is variation: he’s only got seven brushes. I’ve counted 20/25 brushes on courses up till now, and sometimes even 30 and he’s only got seven and therefore he’s had to find variations in profiles and he has.

“People have stopped putting fences in ridiculously difficult places; Mark Phillips was incredibly brave to put a five bar gate on top of the dairy mound at Burghley and that’s what we lack, and look how beautifully it jumped – that’s what we lack, that real guts, Ian has done it with the ditch down the bank into the water. I have a funny feeling that unless the horse is really bold that’s going to ride quite tricky and I’m really glad there’s a long way round.”

Sarah Bullimore and Lilly Corinne. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Sarah Bullimore and Lilly Corinne. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Lucinda used to be a selector for Team GBR and thinks they’ve got it right this time.

“I think Team GBR had 39 possibilities and I would have said that a lot of it is picked upon giving them international experience with a view to the next few years, not necessarily just Rio, it’s the ideal opportunity with 12 spaces. I am not a selector anymore and I was very pleased when Sarah Bullimore got in because I felt she really deserved it because she doesn’t probably sit in the category of ‘young up and comings’ anymore she sort of just fell between two stools and I felt really sorry for her, and had huge admiration that she came up anyhow and look what’s happened – hopefully it will continue to be a really good story for her. I think having to get 12 was a really difficult thing because there were so many to leave behind, there were so many who deserved it and that’s why I’m thrilled that Sarah’s come in, it’s great, but of course I’m deeply sorry for the three that had to go out.”

The situation with Lucinda’s Austrian rider, Daniel Dunst couldn’t be more different to the well-oiled machine that is Team GBR; he drove himself here from Vienna on a tiny budget but Lucinda reports he couldn’t be happier to competing at Blair, and she ponders the conundrum of the two vastly different demographics we currently have in our sport.

“He is loving it, he’s loving the pomp and ceremony, he’s thrilled to bits and over the moon! He’s got a lovely team around him, he deserves to get round, he really fights the odds. We don’t want to lose this side of the sport as the other end gets, more and more thrillingly so, competent. But the universality they talk about in the Olympic Games – we’ve only got 13 – 15 nations, it’s nowhere enough compared to other sports. You could bring in India and more South American countries but not higher than 2* level? I don’t think they’d ever get now to the level we’re at, so we’re being pulled at both ends, it’s very tricky.”

Lucinda rushes off to help Daniel and watch the action in the pouring rain, as passionate about eventing, the horses, the people, the sport, as ever. We’re so honoured to be able to share her thoughts on Eventing Nation and wish Daniel and all the riders today safe rides around Ian Stark’s European Championship track. I’m off out to the mixed zone too to try and get some pictures and riders’ reactions as they come in off the course and we’ll be back later with much more from Blair Castle hopefully. Thank you to Lucinda of course, and thank you for making Eventing Nation part of your Blair Castle weekend. Go Longines FEI European Eventing Championships and Go Eventing!

#Blair2015: Website, Schedule, Live Scores, FEI TVCourse Preview, EN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram, @samanthalclark

Germany Leads Great Britain Ahead of Blair Cross Country

German domination — the Friday night press conference. Photo by Samantha Clark.

German domination — the Friday night press conference. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Francis Whittington has waited 20 years since he represented Team Great Britain on ponies to earn his senior flag, and he punched the air in jubilation as he finished his test on Easy Target. “I’m over the moon with Smokey this week, he’s been working really nicely and then to go in there and to do the test that I can be really proud of, I’m very happy with him. He was spooking at some of the signs on the boards and he held it together and for myself and for his owner, Catherine Witt, I’m thrilled, so very happy.

“Looking ahead to tomorrow, for me I think it’s important we just get out, we get into a good rhythm, I’m not one to make lots of plans, I’m one to do it as naturally as I can and not stress about my distances. I am clear once I break the course down where I might be down a little bit on the time, and there’s areas where I know that I can start to pick that time up again. What I want to make sure is that I don’t take any liberties and that I’m 100 percent safe.”

Francis Whittington and Easy Target

Francis Whittington and Easy Target. Photo by Samantha Clark.

“Seeing the girls go out yesterday and perform such amazing tests and they truly did fantastic tests (Team GBR’s Holly Woodhead, Nicola Wilson, Laura Collett and Kitty King), I thought I’d best start concentrating and try quite hard! In there I’m really pleased with the test we did. We were having a bit of tension where he was spooking at the signs around the arena, which I controlled but that came out slightly, other than that I’m very happy.

“I think the cross country course is going to be strong enough, the big thing that plays a massive part here as I understand it, having not been here, is the hills and the terrain, and that takes it out of them, and I think we have to ride the course wisely so that we’ve got plenty left on the flat to catch up the time coming home.” Francis will go out on cross country tomorrow in seventh place with everything to play for.

Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob

Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Right behind him in eighth is FEI Champion Ingrid Klimke, who was also delighted with her ride on Horseware Hale Bob. Listening to Ingrid talk about her test is a joy in itself and not unlike her riding — expressive, animated, engaging — her blue eyes sparkle, her hands are constantly moving, yes I admit it … total girl crush!

“I’m very pleased because Horseware Hale Bob did such a wonderful job, he was very excited, the wind started blowing and I knew outside he thought maybe it was cross country, but I said no no, we have to behave and then he was so soft, listening. I could easily ride him around. He was through and soft and supple, and I really could think of my position and enjoy it.

“He has a very Thoroughbred canter, which is very good for the cross country but for the dressage they want it more cadence-y and shiny. Then he has to collect points by doing everything very correct, and that is what he did. He really did all the movements like I want and a little bit expressive in the change so I could ride up through it, and he tried to make it a little bit bigger.

“In the extension I always ride as much as I can and always show that he is so through with the transition, so me as a rider I can only show that he is very well-trained and can go forward, backward, sideways, whatever with very soft aids ,and he was really listening today, although he was very excited.”

Ingrid is equally excited to attack the cross country tomorrow: “The course is perfect for him because he was a hunting horse before so he’s very balanced, he’s very good on his feet, and his canter is very flat and economic so condition wise while he has lots of Thoroughbred, he’s always full of energy so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. I think it will be great fun.

“As for the team, today is history. That’s what Chris Bartle always says; it’s not a dressage competition. The rider must be very focused so nobody makes a mistake and stays in their bubble and listens to and feels their horse and just rides it as precisely and supportively as we can.”

William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero

William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Niklas Lindbäck moved into the top 10 with a stunning test on Cendrillon, scoring in the 20s in the early half and earning a final mark of 38.1 on the scoreboard. This puts the Swedish team in fourth overnight on 119.4 behind overnight leaders the Germans on 102.7, Greath Britain in second on 112.5, and France right behind them in 3rd on 115.2.

Surprisingly William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero are the drop score for Team GBR after a disappointing dressage score of 43. Their trot work looked short and tense and actually unlevel at times; since then the horse has been re-shod.

Cross country begins tomorrow at 11 a.m. local time/6 a.m. EST, and the rain is forecast to start at 9 a.m. We’ll be bringing you as much action as we can from the Longines FEI European Championships at Blair Castle, and we appreciate you visiting Eventing Nation. Stay tuned for a video interview to get to know Holly Woodhead a bit better later on, and a few more photos on our Facebook page, but in the meantime — Go Eventing!

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Germany Takes Over Team Lead, Sandra Auffarth Best Individual at Blair

Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo. Photo by Samantha Clark. Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Germany have taken over the lead at the lunch break of the second and final day of dressage here at the FEI Longines European Championships at Blair after a beautiful test by reigning World Champions Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo. Sandra is such a soft and sympathetic rider, and Opgun Louvo’s frame barely changes; he seems to have such a lovely disposition with his ears pricked the entire test, responding to Sandra’s invisible aids, and yet he shows such distinction between each movement and transition.

It was a real joy to watch and a demonstration of what a top class test should look like. Naturally Sandra was pleased with her and her horse’s performance; she said it doesn’t make her nervous when she’s introduced as World Champion before she enters the arena, rather it gives her a little extra boost.

“I am very very pleased with my horse, he was perfect, I could enjoy the dressage test — he was relaxed but really in a good way intense so he had lots of expression so he was nice to ride! I was absolutely not nervous and it’s always a nice feeling to hear that I am double World Champion from the commentator, I thought ‘Oh that’s me!’ I think it’s a good cross country course for my horse, I’m looking forward to it but I think we have to concentrate from the start to the finish and then we will see! I enjoy being part of this brilliant team, it’s a really good feeling.”

Izzy Taylor and KBIS Briarlands Matilda

Izzy Taylor and KBIS Briarlands Matilda. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Izzy Taylor remembers doing her very first three-day event at Blair “way back in the day,” and is glad to be sitting on the experienced KBIS Briarlands Matilda; with rain forecast for tomorrow she echoes many of the riders’ sentiments that it’s not the size of the jumps that matters, but rather the placement and the terrain, and the fact that both Izzy and her mare have plenty of hunting in their background is bound to stand them in good stead. First in this morning they performed a balanced, mistake free test to score a solid 44.

“I’m very pleased with her, she was a good girl and kept a lid on it, I just would have liked to have been a bit closer to the leaders but she was good. Maybe I didn’t ask enough, maybe I was a bit conservative. It looks like a good track out there; it’s not as dimensionally big as a lot of us were expecting from Ian but it’s at Blair with the terrain and he’s been very clever with his placement of fences, especially tricky towards the end so I think it will be a very exciting day.

“We all knew coming to Blair that it was going to be hilly, we didn’t know quite what to expect and Ian’s really made the most of what he’s got which is great. Matilda is a four star horse who’s done a few four stars so I haven’t had to change her routine, she’s got a good base of fitness but some of the others with the younger horses have slightly altered things to try and help with the hills.

“It’s very special to be on a home nation European Championship Squad, and it’s quite different to the experience I had in Malmo where it was just six of us, and there were relatively very few of us other Brits and surrounding people; here it feels like everyone is a Brit which is great and it’s like a home event so there’s different pressures and it’s more relaxed in other ways.”

Oliver Townend and Fenya's Elegance

Oliver Townend and Fenya’s Elegance. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Team GBR, who haven’t lost a home European Championships for many years, are certainly laying down the gauntlet in the first phase with several of the riders recording personal bests so far. Oliver Townend didn’t disappoint either on Fenya’s Elegance, the chestnut mare he’s only been riding a few months, managing to show off her scope whilst not letting her curl up and get too tight. Delighted at the end of his test, Oliver took off his top hat and acknowledged the loud applause, and let the mare stand and graze outside the arena while he waited for his scores. He played it just right this morning.

“I haven’t got the ride on her because everything’s been going swimmingly before, have I? So obviously you’re going into a bit of an unknown quantity and you can manage it as much as you possibly can but at the same time they’re horses so you can’t change the world that quickly so there’s still room for improvement, but she’s never been in the 30s before, and with that we’ll be thrilled.

“I think the cross country is very, very serious for every horse. The terrain is tough and we’ve forecast rain which will change the whole competition. The jumps are not dimensionally massive but I think it’s a really tricky course, and if horses and riders get mentally tired from the hills and the constant questions, that’s when mistakes will creep in.

“Blair is a fabulous event — full stop; I always used to love coming here. I’ve not been here for a couple of years. and now it’s a European Championships. I think they’ve done an unbelievable job; it has a special feel about it. I think the arena looks absolutely amazing; the stands are very, very impressive, and it really does feel like a special occasion, and it’s great that we’re in front of a home crowd.”

Gwendolen Fer and her leggy, elegant Romantic Love came out later in the morning and did another nice test to move up into the top 12 for France. The European Championships are especially important for France, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Spain and Belgium, as this is the last chance for them to qualify as teams for the Olympics next year. Great Britain, The Netherlands, Germany and Ireland are already qualified, and there are two slots up for grabs at this year’s European Championships; these two slots will be given to the two highest placed teams not already qualified.

Thomas Carlile and Sirocco Du Gers

Thomas Carlile and Sirocco Du Gers. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Thomas Carlile also boosted French hopes this morning with a nice test on the promising 9-year-old Sirocco Du Gers, moving into 17th place on a sore of 43.2. Thomas broke Sirocco Du Gers in as a 3 year old for his owner Scea De Beliard, and he said he’s always been his favourite.

“He’s got such a good attitude and he always gives his best and wants to win. To be only 9 and at his first Senior Championships and on the team shows how much esteem the country has for the horse. I rate him a lot and hopefully tomorrow will be a good day for him.”

This lovely big young horse won the Young Horse Championships in Le Lion D’Angers in 2013 and the Nations Cup CCIO3* in Boekelo last year and has been campaigning on the French national circuit this year with the Europeans in mind, and qualification for Rio next year is the priority.

“Sirocco is a very young horse and this is his first senior Championship and his attitude was very good; he was very serious throughout, I don’t know if it will be good enough for an individual medal shout but it should be good enough for the team. We’ve come here to qualify after the blip at the WEG last year; I think we stand a good chance of getting a qualification and then getting a team medal would be the cherry on the cake.

“There are some serious hills out there, the terrain is going to play a lot on the stamina and speed and fitness of the horses. The fences all seem very clear; it’s big, it’s sharp, you need bold riding, but you definitely need fit horses to get round the course. Throughout the season we all train our horses individually. We’ve had the two-week training camp that(French Chef D’equipe) Thierry Touzaint  has always organised since he’s been the French selector back in the early 90s. He’s always trained the team the same way on the beach in Normandy, so our horses are super fit so we don’t have much doubt about that.

“Sirocco is an immensely genuine horse. He’s a horse who never lets go of his bridle; he’s always on the bridle. He’s got plenty of blood; he probably wouldn’t be the fastest of the horses, he does always carry a bit too much weight but that’s him, he keeps his tank up for the end of the course. He’s definitely an out and out stayer, and he’s always pretty good the next day.”

Thomas, who lives in France but funnily enough has a strong Mancunian accent, wouldn’t mind the forecast rain tomorrow — as he says, his horse has plenty of blood on the dam’s side — but is mindful that the French team need to complete first and foremost. “The priority is definitely to qualify the team, so if it does get choppy, we’re going to ride safe to get the team around; it doesn’t take much, it just takes a fall and an unsound horse the next day, so we’re going to play safe tomorrow and see how it goes.”

Thomas has ridden round Bramham before but otherwise doesn’t have much experience with Ian Stark’s cross country, but the French team have been taking advice from their compatriot and team member Nicholas Touzaint. “The skinnies aren’t that skinny, but the tables are big and there’s not much of a ground line — the gates are pretty dry. The real technique in his courses is good management of the horse’s fuel tank, and also he uses the terrain so much that any little unbalance caused by fatigue by the terrain is going to lose your quality of jump which is what you’ve got to keep throughout.”

Best of luck to the French and all the teams seeking qualification this weekend, but before we tackle tomorrow we have another full session of dressage this afternoon, including, of course, the anchors for the team — did you mention Rolex Kentucky winner William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero?! Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob? More to come from the Longines FEI European Championships at Blair Castle, until then thanks for making Eventing Nation part of your day, and Go Eventing!

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Team Great Britain, Holly Woodhead Lead at Blair Castle

Nicola Wilson showed off One Two Many's huge paces. Photo by Samantha Clark. Nicola Wilson showed off One Two Many's huge paces. Photo by Samantha Clark.

The sun, like the wi-fi, came in and out today and both were welcomed gladly. At the end of the first day of dressage at the Longines Blair Castle European Championships the youngest rider in the field Holly Woodhead has retained her lead from this morning, leading the Team GBR charge who lead the Team competition on 71.5 from France on 75.5, and Germany in third on 76.6.

Nicola Wilson came in second for Team GB shortly after lunch and solidified the British lead with a super, smooth test on One Two Many, showcasing his extravagant big paces, especially his level walk.

Nicola Wilson, second to go for Team GBR, lies in 3rd place overnight on 2014 Blair CIC3* winner One Two Many

Nicola Wilson, second to go for Team GBR, lies in 3rd place overnight on 2014 Blair CIC3* winner One Two Many. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Nicola got two nines for her riding on former Blair CIC3* winner One Two Many, but typically was quick to give her horse the credit, “I’m just delighted with him; he is just such a talented horse but sometimes he can be just a little bit cheeky but just these last six weeks he’s just got better and stronger and we’ve been working so well together and I’m delighted that it showed in the ring, and he was lovely to ride and I was so, so proud of him.”

“He loves the atmosphere, he’s an out and out showman, if there was nobody here he’d be really disappointed and probably trudge around like a carthorse but he was really elegant and I was really pleased with him. He did come here last year and he went very well [won the CIC3*!] so wouldn’t it be lovely if he could do as well this year.”

“As for cross country you start worrying at the first fence and don’t stop until you’re between those finish flags, there’s a lot to jump there and I think Ian Stark’s been incredibly clever with his layout of the course and his use of the hills and my word it’s going to be a true test of cross country on Saturday. I know that One Two Many’s fit enough, he hasn’t missed any work and he’s been bang on all summer so hopefully he will cope as well as any with the stamina test on Saturday.”

“It’s a fantastic atmosphere in the British camp with twelve riders here; the camaraderie is great and to have had some amazing dressage tests this morning is very exciting for Britain. Kitty did a super, super job getting us all started, it was so exciting for us all to be there to watch as she kicked the team performance off, she rode really well and it’s just such an honour to be back part of the British team again – bring on the weekend!”

Look - no hands! Michael Jung acknowledges the robust german cheering section!

Look – no hands! Michael Jung acknowledges the robust german cheering section! Photo by Samantha Clark.

Nicola didn’t stay in second place for long because Michael Jung came in a couple of horses later and rode a mistake free test on the elegant chestnut 8 year old (youngest horse in the field) fischerTakinou to score close behind Team GBR’s Holly Woodhead.

Fourth at last year’s Young Horse World Champs Michael described fischerTakinou as very relaxed and rideable, and he was one of the few horses who left the arena to huge applause from the cheering, shouting, whistling German flag-waving contingent in the grandstands on a loose rein, in fact on no reins at a super-relaxed walk, he does indeed look like nothing in the world bothers him at all!

Michael Jung said that the fact that ficherTakinou was so relaxed made him easy to ride in the ring, and their mistake free test left them in 2nd place overnight

Michael Jung said that the fact that ficherTakinou was so relaxed made him easy to ride in the ring, and their mistake free test left them in 2nd place overnight. Photo by Samantha Clark.

As is becoming custom, Michael’s wasn’t the flashiest test, but it was without errors and he was understandably thrilled with his younger horse, “I’m very happy; fischerTakinou is a wonderful horse, he’s very good in the dressage, very relaxed and I can start riding, he did a wonderful test. He had a few bigger competitions this year but he’s normally never impressed by these things, he’s very focused and concentrated on the rider and it makes it easier.”

Michael has of course been ‘walking’ the cross country on his segway #mikesbike after his fall at Burghley last week on fischerRoccana left him slightly lame, “With the machine I had a lot of fun, and with the horse I hope so also! It’s a tough course, it’s a really tough course, big hills and I think the time is difficult, we have not many ways where we can gallop fast, it’s tough enough I think for three star level.”

fischerTakinou has a lot of TB in him which is why Michael picked him over Halunke for this track, and also he said he is aiming Halunke for Pau which would be a qualifier for ‘next season’ which presumably he means Rio. Michael is so far also happy with the team performance, “Dirk had also a very good test and we know that he’s very strong in the cross country and the show-jumping.”

Although the wind has picked up to be quite strong by the end of the day Alec Lochore, event director, is extremely grateful for the sunshine, “It is the most magnificently beautifully place here, our sport is rich because we can come to places like this to ply our trade. We’ve sold tickets in 26 countries, we’ve had great support locally, a lot of positives, we’re in a good place”.

We have some really heavy hitters to look forward to tomorrow, although if the forecast can be trusted not such great weather but we’re in the Highlands, anything can happen.

We’ll have more photos on our Facebook page later tonight, plus a short video with Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal, but in the meantime a massive well done to Team GBR and Holly Woodhead. Thank you for joining us at Blair, and we look forward to three more days of action from the Scotland’s premier event – Go the Longines FEI Blair European Championships!

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Holly Woodhead Leads Blair Castle at Lunch Break with Senior Team Debut

Holly Woodhead and DHI Lupison sail into the lead as of lunchtime Day 1 Longines Blair European Championships on their Team GB Senior debut

Holly Woodhead and DHI Lupison sail into the lead as of lunchtime Day 1 Longines Blair European Championships on their Team GB Senior debut. Photo by Samantha Clark.

With top notch dressage trainers as parents and super form in her recent history (Aachen, Bramham) we all expected great things, but sailing into a commanding lead at the European Championships at her Senior Debut and on her first visit to Blair was still perhaps above and beyond certainly Holly Woodhead’s wildest dreams, “I’m absolutely over the moon with him, he was amazing, he warmed up incredible and he was really rideable and I’m really thrilled with him. It’s hard work to get him like that but when it comes off he’s amazing.  I’m amazed and a little bit overwhelmed. Everything went to plan except for the flower pots at the beginning [DHI Lupison had a big spook, stoppping dead at the flowers at A] and I had a slight moment thinking we were going to jump in, or he was going to stop and I was going to end up around his ears….!”

Luckily Holly had the last words of wisdom from uber-groom Alex Van Tuyll ringing in her ears, “Go Nail It!” and indeed she did.

holly feature

Photo by Samantha Clark.

Holly now has a day and a half to get into cross country mode, and is going to walk the course at least a few more times; so far her first impressions are, “Very big and bold. It’s only my second three star so I’ll hopefully be doing what I did at Bramham and kick on and go round clear inside the time.  It’s quite twisty to start with which I think will catch quite a lot of people out, and I think there’s quite a lot of upright fences so you’ve got to be careful not to get too long and too free, that’s my aim. Hopefully he’ll have his jumping shoes on and he’s fit enough to gallop up all those hills.”

Holly has a five point lead over Frenchman Lt Col Thibault Vallette, and Kitty King now occupies third place.

Laura Collett and Grand Maoeuvre rise to the occassion in the Longine FEI Blair European Championship Main Arena.

Laura Collett and Grand Maoeuvre rise to the occassion in the Longine FEI Blair European Championship Main Arena. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Laura Collett did a lovely test on Grand Manouevre to move into fourth currently on a score of 37.8, “I knew Holly was going to do a good test so I waited until the crowd quieted down, but then they read her score out right as I went in. But he actually coped really well with that, he’s such a trier, he just concentrates so hard as soon as he’s in there.”

“The walk was an issue for me but he probably did his best walk yet so I’m really pleased with him. I think we’re all very aware that they’ve got to be super fit to be here so then trying to contain them in a buzzy atmosphere just shows how good the horses are, really.  I think the course is not dimensionally big but it’s the terrain that is going to cause the problems, and there’s a lot of questions later on so you have to plan for that with how much petrol you use up early on, and I just think there’s a  lot of places to have a silly whoopsie so hopefully we won’t have one.”

Laura might give Grand Manouevre a little pop tomorrow but he’ll have an easy day, whereas she’ll walk the course several more times.

Sarah Bullimore and Lilly Corinne make the most of a last minute call-up to represent Team GBR at Longines FEI Blair European Championships

Sarah Bullimore and Lilly Corinne make the most of a last minute call-up to represent Team GBR at Longines FEI Blair European Championships. Photo by Samantha Clark.

In what was certainly a trend in this group, Sarah Bullimore, a last minute call-up when Dani Evans’ Smart Time was found to be under the weather, managed to keep Lily Corrinne on side to score 38.2, good enough for 5th right behind Laura. Like so many of the horses this morning, the long walk movement in this test was a struggle for this chestnut mare but her stunning uphill canter pulled her score right back up; Sarah and Lily came to Rolex a couple of years ago and the mare has grown and improved so much, and Sarah’s excited that there’s still so much to come still.

“It’s just sad this weekend that my gain has been someone else’s misfortune and I know that she will have her day and we wish her all the best. I’m chuffed with Lily; we got here and went almost straight in the arena. She’s fit and well and we would have gone to Pau had she not come here, so we felt a little bit unprepared but the horse is ready, she’s fit and well and maybe sometimes we overprepare and actually it’s good to get on in there and do it! At the end of the day your training is done at home and you have to come out to a competition and do the business!”

Sarah and her team left home late Tuesday night thinking they would just trot up in the First Horse Inspection, “Fortunately because we were at Burghley last week the lorry was already packed and we haven’t found anything yet that we’re missing!” Nice job Sarah for pulling it off!

Gemma Tattersall and her OTTB Arctic Soul

Gemma Tattersall and her OTTB Arctic Soul. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Breaking up the Team GBR girl-fest Sam Watson declared himself delighted with Horseware Lukeswell’s 44.1, slotting into 6th so far on their Irish team debut. They go just ahead of Gemma Tattersall on her OTTB Arctic Soul who raced until he was six, and who contained himself impressively in the arena, you only really realised quite how impressively when he trotted out and tried to bolt away once the grandstands started applauding when he’d finished his test.

Gemma knows him inside out and rode him sympathetically, their walk was a bit of a struggle, their trot work was nice and their canter work was elegant but Saturday is what this pair is all about, “It’s taken him a little while to understand what eventing is all about; he’s really nervous and he gets lit up. He’s not naughty, he gets genuinely nervous so it’s all about managing his nerves. He actually goes very nicely on the flat, he moves very nicely and he goes very nicely but when he gets very tight that reflects in the marks. My first opinion of the course was it’s a bit small, but it certainly needs jumping and there’s certainly a few questions towards the end of the track that we will need to have our brains in gear for, for sure.” Arctic Soul is owned by the Soul Syndicate, most of whom are here at Blair supporting him.

Looking ahead to reigning European Champion Michael Jung in the next session, as well as Nicola Wilson on Blair winner One Too Many, and lots more to come. Thanks as always for making Eventing Nation part of your Longines Blair Castle European Championships experience and Go Eventing!

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France Holds Narrow Lead at Blair, Kitty King Scores Personal Best

Kitty King and Persimmon pull out a personal best at this level to take an eary lead at the Longines Blair FEI European Championships on their GB Senior Team Championship debut

Kitty King and Persimmon pull out a personal best at this level  at the Longines Blair FEI European Championships on their GB Senior Team Championship debut

Kitty King’s Persimmon is a horse who can go either way in the dressage and looking incredibly fit in himself, and not knowing how to deal in the First Horse Inspection it was anyone’s guess which way that would be this morning. First to go for Team GB on her Senior Championship debut on a cold blustery day, the pressure was on.

Added to that Kitty said ‘Percy’ had been slightly on edge all week, but between her sympathetic and effective riding, the partnership they have, and the help she’s received from Team GB dressage trainer Tracie Robinson all this week, she managed to showcase his lovely paces and correct schooling to maximum effect and at the mid-morning break they are just .1 behind the current leaders, Frenchman Lt. Co. Thibaut Vallette on Quing du Briot ENE HN.

“He can be a little bit tricky and he’s not really been on his best form last week, so I came up here a little bit stressed and Tracie’s really helped me, we’ve just done lots of stretching, lots of suppling work and he’s got better each day, let me ride him more and more and let me get my leg into his ribs and move him.

“He was good this morning when we worked early, and then he felt brilliant when we worked outside, and then he just took that through into the arena. I was a little worried he might go a bit tense and tight but he let me ride him. We missed one change which was a shame, we had a few issues with it earlier in the week and it came back to haunt us, but other than that he felt really good and he was really trying for me and I’m just delighted with him.”

Kitty definitely felt a change in the atmosphere from other competitions. “It’s a bit different in there, I don’t normally get nervous before dressage but this morning I was feeling a few butterflies!” Kitty said she didn’t pick her music and didn’t hear a thing while she was in there, but Italian Luca Roman surely picked an electric remix of “Carmen” which played while he was in the arena. His test was pleasant and generally mistake free, although Castlewoods Jake tended to get short in the neck.

Did Joseph Murphy pick Lana Del Ray’s “Summertime Sadness”? Sportsfield Othello looked tense at times, swishing his tail through most of the canter and breaking once. Dirk Schrade seemed thrilled with Hop and Skip who redeemed himself after stepping back in the first halt with a very nice halt, with some rather exuberant changes — so far it definitely seems as if everyone has brought fit horses to Blair!

The Frenchman holds a well-deserved lead so far, but it’s early days and coming up any minute we have Team GB young superstar Holly Woodhead, Laura Collett and so much more. Go Blair, and Go the European Championships of Eventing! You can watch dressage live on FEI TV at this link.

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70 Horses Pass First Horse Inspection at European Championships

Tartan. Everywhere. The Longines Blair Castle FEI European Championships. Photo by Samantha Clark. Tartan. Everywhere. The Longines Blair Castle FEI European Championships. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Of the 71 horses presented at the Longines Blair Castle FEI European Championships this afternoon, only one was not accepted by the Ground Jury, and all fifteen nations will still be represented.

The Ground Jury, consisting of Sue Baxter, President, Andrew Bennie fresh from Burghley and Sandor Fulop all braved the weather and bore their legs in kilts. Commentator John Kyle was less hardy, or perhaps more shy (but I doubt it!) and showed his Scottish leaning in a very fetching pair of tartan trousers.

Perhaps it was the cold weather but I’d like to think it was the fitness of the horses which resulted in lots of naughty behaviour on the jog strip — for the most part they certainly look ready to attack these hills; looking especially fit were the home side, Team GBR and especially badly-behaved, Bay My Hero we’re looking at you, and Persimmon, Kitty King!

Team Great Britain looking fighting fit and very, very well

Also looking impressive are the Irish squad — both two legged and four legged, likewise the Italians and French. The Russians lost one of their team when Indigo Pyreneen was sent to the holding box; on being re-represented he was not jogged up by rider Igor Atrokhov who was also rather lame but the Ground Jury insisted that the original rider trot him up again, and sadly they were not accepted.

Poland’s sole representative Jacek Jeruzal was allowed to trot up out of order at the end of the Inspection instead of before Team Ireland as apparently he’s had travel problems and had only just arrived on site.

Once again, as on Sunday at Burghley, Michael Jung’s groom Julia Harsch trotted up his horse fischerTakinou and was accepted without any problem. Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal was sent to the holding box with the petite bay mare Franzipan but accepted upon re-inspection, and likewise Spain’s Maria Pinedo Sendagorta whose Carriem Van Colen Z looked fabulous.

Maria is competing with her sister Cristina for Spain, and brothers Luca and Pietro Roman are competing together on the Italian squad. The best dressed man also came from Italy, it was Emiliano Portale with Rubens Delle Sementarecce, and the best dressed woman was Sweden’s Louise Svensson Jahde with Viva 29 although I’m not sure how they decide as most competitors were wearing a version of their uniform.

The teams have been announced as follows:

Netherlands:

1. Theo Van De Vendel on Zindane
2. Alice Naber Lozeman
3. Merel Blom
4. Tim Lips

Ireland:

1. Joseph Murphy
2. Padraig McCarthy
3. Michael Ryan
4. Austin O’Connor

Italy:

1. Luca Roman
2. Giovanni Ugolotti
3. Arianna Schivo
4. Pietro Roman

Great Britain

1. Kitty King
2. Nicola Wilson
3. Pippa Funnell
4. William Fox-Pitt

Germany:

1. Dirk Schrade
2. Michael Jung
3. Sandra Auffarth
4. Ingrid Klimke

France:

1. Thibaut Vallette
2. Karim Florent Laghouag
3. Thomas Carlile
4. Matthieu Lemoine

Sweden:

1. Johan Lundin
2. Anna Nillson
3. Sara Algotsson Ostholt
4. Niklas Lindback

Spain:

1 Albert Hermoso Farras
2. Cristina Pinedo Sendagorta
3. Maria Pinedo Sendagorta
4. Carlos Diaz Fernandez

Lucinda Green is here with her Austrian Team Coach hat on, but she has promised us a preview of the cross country again, so we’re looking forward to that.

I had a quick look at the second half of it, and yes, it is hilly, and yes, a couple of the jumps I saw would put hairs on your chest (18 & 19, 21 & 22 – Horse & Hound have posted pictures of each jump with a cool drone flyover of that water jump, and also check out the virtual course walk with designer Ian Stark of course) but surprisingly for the terrain and the fact that it’s an Ian Stark track, thanks to our friends at Equiratings, the riders can sleep a little easier perhaps these next couple of nights knowing the following:

In 2013 Blair had a completion rate of 89% with 17 of the 19 starters seeing out all three phases. There were 35 CCI3*x with ten starters or more in our two year sample and the completion rate for Blair 2013 ranks the HIGHEST.

Fluke? Hardly! In 2014 the percentage was 84%, again extremely high and ranks 3rd in the same sample of events – Bromont 2014 is sandwiched in between the two with 88%. To give these figures some context, at the bottom end of the scale are Jersey Fresh 2014 (43%), Bramham U25 2014 (41%) and Ballindenisk 2013 (36%).

The Test Ride tomorrow is at 10am GB time and will be performed by Olivia Wilmot on Zebedee De Foja, and the competition proper gets underway proper at 10:20am with the Netherlands.

Once again, many thanks for making Eventing Nation part of your European Championship Experience and we look forward to bringing you lots more from Blair over the next few days — you probably won’t see us in kilts, brrr, but I’m definitely not ruling out Scottish cashmere or whisky! Go Blair and Go Eventing!

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Catching Up With Tiana Coudray: Burghley Young Event Horse Finals & Ringwood Magister

Tiana Coudray competing Rupert in the Four Year Old division of the Burghley Young Event Horse Final. Photo by Samantha Clark. Tiana Coudray competing Rupert in the Four Year Old division of the Burghley Young Event Horse Final. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Although U.S. Olympian and four-star rider Tiana Coudray wishes she’d had an entry in the Land Rover Burghley CCI4* this past weekend, she made her journey up to Lincolnshire count, bringing two stunning horses to contest the Burghley Young Event Horse Finals, one in each of the Four and Five Year Old Divisions.

Her four-year-old Rupert was understandably slightly overwhelmed as this was only his second outing off the farm, “He’s fantastic, I just rate him so much. We bought him as an unbroken three year old last winter and he’s just been a dream, he’s just lush. I own him in partnership with Diana Chappell and as a result of him being mine he gets pushed to the bottom of the list — he hasn’t been out, hasn’t seen anything, hasn’t done anything. He’s left the farm once before which was the qualifier! I think the world of him.”

Unfortunately, unless she can find some owners to buy him for her, Tiana may not have the ride on him long, as Rupert is for sale.

Tiana Coudray sits tight as Rupert gives the Burghley Young Event Horse 4 year old jumps some air! "In a perfect world I'd find some owners to keep him for me as I think he's really quite proper!" Photo by Samantha Clark

Tiana Coudray sits tight as Rupert gives the Burghley Young Event Horse 4 year old jumps some air! “In a perfect world I’d find some owners to keep him for me as I think he’s really quite proper!” Photo by Samantha Clark.

Hopefully not so with her five year old, Cavalier Crystal, a beautiful mare who won the entire 5-Year-Old Championship, and who Tiana co-owns with Dr Liz Williams with the intention of keeping and campaigning her as a serious future prospect.

“We’re still in shock! She came to me last April and we’ve rated her all year, really, really rated her. She won a pre-novice (Training level), did her first novice the other day (Prelim level) and came third, she’s just spectacular, definitely we have some really big goals for her, but we’re in shock that she won today because we’ve done a couple of these qualifiers and the judges haven’t particularly liked her so we thought we must be going crazy and maybe she’s not as nice as we think, but today she led from the beginning and nothing came close to touching her!”

‘CC’ is now qualified for the young horse championships at Osberton in October so that will be their next aim, and next year they’re hoping she might be a contender for the 6 year old championships at Le Lion D’Angers.

Tiana Coudray and Cavalier Crystal on their way to winning the Burghley Young Event Horse 5-Year-Old class. Photo by Peter Nixon/Burghley.

Tiana Coudray and Cavalier Crystal on their way to winning the Burghley Young Event Horse 5-Year-Old class. Photo by Peter Nixon/Burghley.

Meanwhile her faithful campaigner Ringwood Magister (Finn) continues to be a heartbreaker. Coming back from an injury which kept him out of work last year, Tiana took him up to Burgham for the CIC3*.

“He thoroughly performed in the dressage — in a bad way! He pulled out every trick he’s got … tempi changes, you name it! That was a bit naughty but then he show jumped and went cross country double clear easily and really well so since then we decided we’d bore him with lots of dressage. He’s in great form, he feels incredible and winning British dressage every time he goes out and he’s been show jumping clear in 1 metre 30s, and has been behaving beautifully.”

So much so that Tiana entered him for the CCI3* at Blenheim in a couple of weeks, but that was not meant to be. “He banged a splint and luckily it’s nothing more major but that needs to settle down so we’ve re-entered him for Boekelo and for Pau and we’ll just see how things go. Everything is good, he just decided he didn’t want to go to Blenheim!”

Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister at Badminton CCI**** 2013. Photo by Nico Morgan

Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister at Badminton CCI4* 2013. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Until then Tiana has a yard full of about 14 horses, most of which she rides herself every day, “It’s good to be busy and it’s good to have nice, young horses,” and she had a vested interest in a certain Australian entry here in the Land Rover Burghley CCI4*, as Murray Lamperd’s Under The Clocks has been based with her in his run up to Burghley and she admits she loved the horse and loved prepping him for the big event. “Ninja” ultimately finished in 20th place.

Tentative plans for next spring will hopefully see her prepping Finn for another big one, as Plan A would be to bring him back to Rolex, and Plan B would be Badminton in their quest to impress the selectors ahead of Rio, but she’s realistic also, “Anything can happen, you make plans and then they change them for you! We’ll see. ..”

We’ll cross our fingers to see Finn out again soon and look forward to following Tiana’s youngsters with much interest. Best of luck at Osberton, and many thanks to Tiana for chatting. You can follow her latest updates on her website. Go Burghley Young Event Horses and Go Eventing!

Wrapping Up the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

Your 2015 Land Rover Burghley Champions Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam Photo by Nico Morgan

Your 2015 Land Rover Burghley Champion Michael Jung! He rode fischerRocana FST in the prize giving because Sam can be a bit naughty in awards ceremonies. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Michael Jung has had Sam, who he describes as like a good friend to him, since he was five years old and there’s not much left that they haven’t won! In fact this was their 21st international win, and in the last nine years (since 2006) they’ve never finished outside the top 5 — Olympic, WEG and European gold, CCI4* wins — but Michael did say today was pretty special.

“Burghley is such a famous competition with a high tradition; to be here with two horses and to finish with two healthy horses and to win Burghley is a very special moment. Sam and I have a really good partnership, I’ve known him for many years and done many competitions with him; I’ve learnt a lot from him and with him, and maybe he’s also learned a little bit from me. He’s a very strong horse and I’m very happy to have him, every time he gives me a very, very good feeling, he always tries his best and gives me 100 percent. In the show-jump arena he jumped very well today, he was powerful and concentrating and that helps a lot.”

Michael himself was still pretty lame this afternoon, and his groom Julia Harsch trotted Sam up in the final horse inspection this morning, but he insisted again that his leg is “OK enough, when you’re on the horse you don’t feel it!” Michael couldn’t confirm at this point whether he’ll be back next year but did reiterate how impressed he’s been with the event and what an honour it’s been to be here, “I like the competition very much and I’m so happy that we had the chance to come here this year; if my horses are fit and ready, I’ll try and come back next year.”

Tim Price takes second place to Michael again, just as he did at Rolex in the spring, and after making no mistakes all weekend, “Ringwood Sky Boy has been improving in all ways and I really thought that would show itself on the flat and I went out there and achieved what I wanted to achieve. He’s an excellent cross country horse so given those two phases I kind of expected to be somewhere in the mix come yesterday afternoon but to still be here today — that’s where it’s exceptional.

“I’m so thrilled for the horses and the people involved in him, they’ve believed in him, I’ve believed in him and it’s just a testament to the hard work and training and preparation because he’s not natural in the show-jumping but he is a good jumper and he’s learning to try hard at the right times in the right way.”

Tim also won a nice £3000 bonus this afternoon for being the clear round closest to the optimum time while wearing SSG gloves; he also won the equivalent prize at Rolex in the dressage phase.

Chris Burton was happy to lay his Burghley demons to rest — he first came over here as a young rider all the way from Australia and fell at the third fence! Now he takes home the third and fourth prizes after impressive performances on both his Adelaide CCI4* catch ride winner TS Jamaimo and Haruzac, and we can only hope that he’ll come to the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event before too long to try and add that string to his bow.

There’s a reason everyone loves Burghley and counts it among the best events in the world — everything is done to the max. Hospitality, the competition, the organisation, it’s impossible to find fault with it and we even had perfect weather and conditions this year to boot. Many thanks to all the riders for being so patient and talking to us, many thanks to the volunteers, grooms, families and supporters, to the fantastic press office and to you for joining us this week.

Next week will see us up in Scotland for the European Championships, and it would be hard to bet against seeing Michael on the podium again along with his teammate Ingrid Klimke, who popped in this afternoon to receive her FEI Series winning prize.  Until then, we wish our brave U..S contingent a brave and happy journey home, and GO the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials!

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Michael Jung and Sam Take 2015 Land Rover Burghley Title

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW win! Photo by Samantha Clark. Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW win! Photo by Samantha Clark.

Our friends at EquiRatings warned us this morning that since 2010 Caroline Powell was the only rider to sit in the top three at Burghley and then jump clear on the final day. Michael Jung is unlike any other rider and proved that again this afternoon, jumping a flawless clear on La Biosthetique Sam FBW to clinch the Land Rover Burghley title at his first attempt.

Tim Price is also a rider who will probably go down as one of the best of his time when all’s said and done, and he too conjured a beautiful clear out of Ringwood Sky Boy, the horse’s first at this level. Between them, Tim’s wife Jonelle and Chris Burton, it’s pretty clear which nations are going to be a real threat at the Olympics in Rio next year.

Jonelle was unlucky when Classic Moet had the first part of the treble down and dropped from second to fifth, opening the door for Chris Burton to finish in 3rd and 4th places on TS Jamaimo and Haruzac respectively after two clears. Mark Todd for New Zealand and Cedric Lyard for France both jumped clean on Leonidas and Cadeau Du Roi for 6th and 7th, and Tina Cook jumped clear to finish as highest placed Brit in 8th on Star Witness after a miraculous save at the Trout Hatchery yesterday.

Last year’s Badminton champion Paulank Brockagh never looked like she was going to touch a rail and Sam Griffiths finished 9th on her, with William Fox-Pitt rounding out the top 10 on Fernhill Pimms who had an unlucky rail but looked bright and keen and must be such an exciting prospect for his rider and owners Catherine Witt and Carol Gee.

Lynn Symansky and Donner finish 14. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Lynn Symansky and Donner had one rail down to finish 14th. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Lynn Symansky and Donner finished 14th with one rail down to be the highest-placed U.S. combination. Donner looked a bit spooky early on but settled well to complete on a final score of 64.9. Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights moved up from 30th after cross country to finish in 22nd thanks to jumping one of just five clear show jumping rounds this morning.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch had three down to finish 48th, with honorary American Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality having one down to finish 39th. You can read all about the morning session and see photos of Colleen, Laine and Tim here, plus watch an interview with Colleen. Scroll down to see the photo gallery from the final show jumping session.

The press conference is about to get underway, so keep checking back for much more from Burghley. All show jumping rounds are now available to watch on Burghley TV at this link. You can also see lots of photos and GIFs in EN’s open threads; click here for the morning session open thread and here for the afternoon open thread. Go Team USA at Burghley! Go Eventing!

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Colleen Rutledge, Laine Ashker & Tim Bourke Complete Burghley

Laine Ashker and Antony Patch show jump in the Land Rover Burghley main arena. Photo by Samantha Clark. Laine Ashker and Antony Patch show jump in the Land Rover Burghley main arena. Photo by Samantha Clark.

The first session of show jumping has wrapped up in the Land Rover Burghley main arena, and with it we have two U.S. completions and one for our American Irishman Tim Bourke, with Colleen Rutledge jumping clear on her 9-year-old homebred Covert Rights and Laine Ashker having three down on her OTTB partner Anthony Patch. Tim had just one fence down on Luckaun Quality, and we couldn’t be prouder of all three of them. (Click here to watch videos of their rounds on Burghley TV.)

There were only seven clear rounds, and Colleen’s puts her in the lead in 25th place as we break for lunch before the remaining 24 horses jump. Watch Colleen talk about her clear round and what’s next for Covert Rights in the video interview below:

Our sympathies to the first rider in the ring Emily Lochore, whose horse Hexmaley’s Hayday couldn’t decide whether to stop or go at the upright white gate, and ended up trying to stop at the last minute, crashed through it and slipped and had a soft fall on the grass. Luckily both horse and rider were absolutely fine but it must have been unnerving for Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch who had to follow them in.

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality en route to completing the Land Rover Burghley CCI****

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality en route to completing the Land Rover Burghley CCI****. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Sam Griffiths conjured a clear round out of the historically rather careless Happy Times and he must be cursing his 20 at the Discovery Valley yesterday as Happy Times is usually such a reliable campaigner in that phase — isn’t that why three day eventing is the ultimate test to try and get the best in all three phases at the one competition!

Paul Tapner jumped clear on Vanir Kamira which will be a nice confidence boost ahead of his round on Kilronana this afternoon. Also clear were Georgie Strang on Cooley Business Time (Lucinda Green’s pick to ride XC yesterday) and local rider Kerry Varley on Bluestone Luke. Ros Canter on the enormous, scopey Allstar B had just one time fault to add to their overnight score — what a super performance at their first Burghley.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights jump clear! Photo by Samantha Clark.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights jump clear! Photo by Samantha Clark.

Nana Dalton jumped clear on the striking grey Elite Syncopation, and Austin O’Connor was our first clear round of the day on Morning Venture with a smooth, well-judged round to show us all how it can be done.

The final session of show jumping is due to get underway here at 2:25pm GB time 9:25am US eastern and we’ll be willing Donner the Deer and Lynn Symansky on — they’re due to go 9th in the division as they currently lie in 18th place. Do join the Horse & Hound live blog if you can, and if not follow us on Twitter.

Scroll down to see a full show jumping gallery from the first group, and stay tuned for much more from Burghley, including a video interview with Colleen Rutledge once we can get it to upload! Thank you for making Eventing Nation part of your Burghley Experience, and Go Eventing!

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All U.S. Pairs Pass Final Horse Inspection, 50 Horses Move to Show Jumping

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch

Our three American ladies and Tim Bourke will all move forward to the show-jumping phase of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials after passing the Final Horse Inspection Sunday morning. It was not without a couple of heart stopping moments as although Tim Bourke’s Luckaun Quality and Laine Ashker’s Anthony Patch breezed through without a second glance, both Lynn Symansky and Colleen Rutledge were asked to jog Donner and Covert Rights twice respectively before being accepted by the Ground Jury.

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality

Pippa Funnell’s Redesigned was sent to the holding box and subsequently withdrawn. Matthew Heath’s The Lion and Jeanette Brakewell’s Let’s Dance were both sent to the holding box and then spun on re-inspection.  Hannah Bates’ Finbury Hill was sent to the holding box and then accepted upon re-inspection.

Ros Canter’s Allstar B was asked to jog twice and accepted.

Once again we were all asked to be quiet for Emily Lochore’s Hexmaley’s Hayday who was very nervous but completely sound.

Lynn Symansky and Donner pass the Final Horse Inspection at Land Rover Burghley Inspection

Lynn Symansky and Donner pass the Final Horse Inspection at Land Rover Burghley Inspection

The Australian horses were remarkable for how good they all looked this morning, both beautifully presented but especially so fit and well.

The overnight leader La Biosthetique Sam was presented by a very attractive and well-dressed blonde lady, presumably Michael Jung was too lame to jog, but he was watching and smiling, and gave them both the thumbs up as they were accepted.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights

Some much anticipated awards were given out at the horse inspection. Best conditioned (as well as best care and presentation) went to Mark Todd’s groom, Khia Cadney-Moon for Leonidas II. Tim Price’s Ringwood Sky Boy wins Best Shod Horse.

A total of 50 horses will go forward to show jumping, which you can follow along with both on our open thread as well as the Horse & Hound live blog.

Rushing out to catch the first group of showjumping and then we’ll be back with more photos. Go eventing at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials!

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Michael Jung and Sam Lead Burghley After Action-Packed Cross Country

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam. Photo by Nico Morgan Photography.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Had you asked anybody Friday evening if they expected Michael Jung to hold the lead after cross country, chances are most people would have answered in the affirmative, but perhaps we expected him to be sitting in that position on his dressage leader and Rolex Kentucky winner, Fischerrocana FST.

Instead, after an almost freak stumble in the water just before the Lion Bridge boat, it was Olympic and WEG champion La Biosthetique Sam who rose to the occasion, jumping clear with just 0.8 of a time penalty and so moving up from 5th place into the lead.

As predicted the course caused plenty of trouble and fast clear rounds guaranteed a massive move up the leaderboard. Very few of the rides looked foot perfect and even the majority of those who jumped clear had to fight for it and you could see that.

Lynn Symansky and Donner.

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Without being biased Lynn Symansky’s round on Donner was one of the nicest to watch, also impressive was our pathfinder Oliver Townend on his first horse Dromgurrihy Blue who moved up from 30th to 10th.

Chris Burton was lovely to watch on both his rides, and of course lying in third Jonelle Price is inimitable.  By the end of the day Bill Levett had probably had time to watch quite a few rounds and was able to ride Improvise accordingly — aggressive and effective to move up to 6th place from 19th with just 4.8 time.

Conversely Tina Cook and Mark Todd sat like glue when most other people would have hit the deck, remained unruffled and executed their plans to come home with just a handful of time faults each and move into the top ten overnight.

Michael Jung limped into the media centre with a small scrape on his face and joked that after his aborted round on Fischerrocana he got back to the stables and his brother told him the pressure was now really on as Sam had just moved up into the top 6!

Michael was in great spirits despite his fall, probably because he still leads the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, and he told us he had a fantastic ride on Sam, “I know that he’s a really strong horse in the cross country, I know him from many competitions, many championships, he’s a very very strong horse. I was a little bit slow in the beginning, a little bit slow up the long hill to fence number 13 (Winner’s Avenue to Cottesmore Leap) but after this I wanted to catch the time and he was so much fighting and jumping, he was very, very good, he gave me a really good feeling.”

Jonelle Price and Classic Moet. Photo by Nico Morgan Photography.

Jonelle Price and Classic Moet. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Michael couldn’t really explain exactly what happened under the Lion Bridge with the mare, but he did stress that she didn’t trip forwards and go down on her knees, rather she fell sideways into the water, “The first part with Fischerrocana was very quick — I think after 40 seconds it was finished! It was a very bad mistake — every jump up to there was good, just three (!) and then I went into the water and I thought it was good, and I was very slow, and then I was catching a good rhythm to the next fence and then she was falling into the water, very stupid.”

Tim Price moved into the reserve slot with a fast round on Ringwood Sky Boy, despite being slightly distracted by a wasp that flew into his shirt after the Discovery Valley and stung him a few times on his stomach.

Thinking it was a thorn he tried to alleviate the “peculiar scratchy sensation” but it wasn’t until he finished and lifted up his shirt and watched it fly away that he realised what had happened.

Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy. Photo by Nico Morgan Photography.

Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Apart from that, his round went more or less to plan he confirmed, “I wanted to survive it and I knew we were capable of that. Sky Boy’s not the most conventional jumper which I think at times was obvious for all to see but he’s got a lot of scope and he tries really hard and he’s very honest, and that stands us in good stead. When the technical elements come along my job gets a bit more difficult, he’s got a very long stride and he just wants to get there so the likes of The Trout Hatchery was a bit of a scramble and the Discovery Valley was not so great either. It was one of those courses that you had to respect it and ride it as it comes and use a bit of feel and make choices along the way.”

Tim’s wife Jonelle moved up to 3rd place overnight on her WEG 2014 ride Classic Moet with one of only two rounds inside the time, something Mark Todd had predicted yesterday, and something that was almost expected of her, “This reputation is becoming a bit of a problem actually! She’s a fast mare, I just have to keep up with her; she really did give me a fantastic round today, I think she was pretty faultless from start to finish. When we walked the course it was pretty big and imposing, very Burghley-like. Captain Mark Phillips built things we’d never seen before and I wasn’t really sure how they were going to ride but I was really pleasantly surprised.”

Chris Burton had the other clear inside the time on TS Jamaimo, his Adelaide 4* catch ride and winner, and said today the horse felt much more on the job and up for it the moment the left the start box compared to Badminton earlier in the Spring when it took him a while to get into his groove.  Chris’s second ride Haruzac also went very well and lies right behind his stable mate in 5th place.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Nico Morgan Photography.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Bill Levett and Improvise looked very solid the whole way and round out the top six. Mark Todd kept us all on the edge of our seats, surviving one sticky moment after another on Leonidas, and I’m not sure how Tina Cook not only stayed on but managed to leave the Trout Hatchery without penalties after Star Witness hung a leg on the middle element.

William Fox-Pitt was just settling into a lovely rhythm on Fernhill Pimms who looked to be going better and better, and quickly too when he was held right before Fence 23, the big solid ‘Thomson’s Wall’ preceding Discovery Valley.

After what seemed an eternity while the course builders banged one plank back into place, they then let Charlotte Brear go before him as she was slowly making her way there and so the hold ended up being significant.

Once he was restarted William planned on going the long way at the Discovery Valley and then he said in a blonde moment in his effort to make up time he completely missed the B element, remembered as he was almost at the Land Rover arch and had to turn around, gallop back and catch it.

He finished clear but with 20 odd time penalties, but mostly all he could talk about afterwards was how thrilled and delighted he was with his horse who really did rise to the occasion around his first four star today.

Sam Griffiths was having a cracking ride on the experienced and very headstrong Happy Times but eventually his enthusiasm got the better of him, and after jumping huge over the ditch at Discovery Valley and pulling Sam up the hill he was in no position to jump the brush.

Niklas Bschorer’s campaign came to an early end when Tom Tom Go 3 fizzled to a halt between the fences coming out the Anniversary Splash.  Oliver Townend was flying round at the very end of the day and Armada looked to be relishing the challenge, jumping easily and economically but was slightly ungenerous at the Trout Hatchery and despite picking up a 20 here they still came home with only 1.2 time penalties.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Lesley Ward.

Andrew Hoy’s run of bad luck continued when he parted company from Rutherglen at Capability’s Cutting but he did turn up in the mixed zone later to assure us he was ok.

Watching Pippa Funnell’s round was like watching her ten years ago, or even more — vintage Pippa — encouraging her horse, riding with such grit and determination but still so secure and effective; like her dressage on Thursday it’s an education to see her in action, and how nice to see Redesigned in the top 12 overnight.

Special shout outs also to Willa Newton who scorched round for 2.8 time but made it look effortless, and Sophie Jenman on Geronimo for a very stylish clear; Geronimo trotted past me as he was pulling up at the finish and he looked as if he was heading to the start box, an exciting combination to keep an eye on.

How exciting were our US combinations though? All four of our horses and riders who travelled over from the US have now jumped round what’s being called the toughest 4* course in the world.

Colleen Rutledge had to work for her clear round on the nine year old homebred Covert Rights, but said about halfway round it clicked in with him what was happening and he improved steadily from there on, and she said she finished with a ton of horse.

Lynn had a great round on Donner, and we’ve already put up her video of her post ride interview; Colleen’s, Tim’s and Laine’s are uploading very, very slowly but we’ll bring them to you as soon as we possibly can.

tim bourke stirrup 2

Tim Bourke had one sticky moment at the Cottesmore Leap and did very well to stay on on landing, but somehow lost his stirrup leather in the process. He said he considered doing a Mark Todd and continuing with just the one but decided he wasn’t high enough up in the rankings to warrant it, so spent probably close to a minute to readjust the leather and fasten it again before getting back underway. After that he and Luckaun Quality had a classy round, making it all look simple.

Laine brought her 16 year old OTTB Anthony Patch home with 40 jumping penalties but should be proud of what a great round they had. The first 20 at the boat under the Lion Bridge was an unlucky moment when Al spooked at something right beforehand and was left underpowered to jump it.

After that they both rose to the challenge; Al galloped round with his ears pricked, listening and responding to Laine and never losing his form over those massive jumps.

The second 20 came in the Trout Hatchery, and Laine admits that he just was too careful jumping in and didn’t meet the next fence right, but on meeting it exactly the same the second time she was more infuriated and rode more strongly and he did it regardless. Much more from Laine, Colleen and Tim on their rides when we can bring you those video interviews.

Mark Phillips professed himself pleased with the results today, “Obviously it was a big track so I was pretty nervous. I have to say a lot of the fences rode differently to what I expected. I was hoping for two or three inside the time.  What really pleased me was that of all the horses who started I think only 12 didnt’ get home, I was expecting a bigger number than that over a track of this size. I think there were about 38 clear rounds (42 actually) which again is a good percentage so I’m a very relieved and happy man tonight.”

It’s likely that the course will stay the same way round next year as chopping and changing direction becomes expensive, and most riders agreed that it’s much tougher this way.  When asked about various mistakes at specific questions Mark assessed that those who rode properly made a nice picture and those that didn’t: “Don’t come to Burghley if you’re going to ride backwards!”

We also had the opportunity to chat with Canadian rider Rebecca Howard, who is tentatively aiming for Pau with Riddle Master. Best of luck to Rebecca and “Rupert” with their fall plans!

Congratulations to all those who completed today; as Sam Griffiths mentioned yesterday any horse who gets round this course is something pretty special. Well done to all the grooms, families, connections and support crews, let’s hope that tonight is not too long for them — most of the riders were in agreement that the footing was close to perfect.

Thank you to our esteemed photographer Nico Morgan for all his beautiful shots, and thank you and major props to all the volunteers, jump judges and media press tent personnel who all combine to make Burghley one of eveybody’s favourite events.

The Final Horse Inspection is at 9 a.m. local/4 a.m. EST Sunday morning, the first group will show-jump at 10:30 a.m. local/5:30 a.m. EST and the final group will start at 2:25 p.m. local/9:25 a.m. EST.

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Lucinda Green’s Thoughts on Land Rover Burghley Cross Country

Lucinda Green at Burghley 2015 Photo by Nico Morgan

Lucinda Green at Burghley 2015. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Many thanks to Lucinda Green, a two time former winner of Burghley and of course six time winner of Badminton and medals too numerous to mention, for sitting down to chat quickly about the big, bold course the riders will face shortly. Lucinda thinks …

“It’s a cracker. It’s as big a course as I’ve seen, and I’m thrilled because the standard has to be raised at the top end in order for the sport not to just dwindle into a show-jumping and dressage competition. My worry is that the horses and riders are not going to be prepared because the events below this have become tamer and tamer.

“This year particularly we had Luhmühlen CCI4* that was no way a qualification for this, Saumur which was more like a two and a half star and Badminton which wasn’t a four star in the vein it needs to be.  We’ve had two good three stars at Bramham and Tattersalls and furthermore the Advanced One Day Events don’t really ask enough because there’s always another one you can go to that will be easier. Therefore horses are going to get their qualifications and have got here really possibly not ready.

“Also I think fitness wise people don’t realise how fit they’ve got to be and this is a serious course because it’s maximum stretch the whole time, and the idea behind a four star is there shouldn’t be too many let-ups and there aren’t. Mentally I think the riders and the horses are going to get very tired, so I’m delighted because I think it’s a very brave course and I think there’s a lot of flow to it if you are prepared to go the straight ways, there’s a lot of flow and I don’t think it’s unfair — the horses can see what they’ve got to do, there’s not a trick.”

The Trout Hatchery on the Land Rover Burghley 2015 XC course Photo by Samantha Clark

The Trout Hatchery on the Land Rover Burghley 2015 XC course. Photo by Samantha Clark.

“Probably the most difficult fence is the Trout Hatchery because it happens so quickly and the horses will be tired, most of the other fences aren’t happening as quickly as that. It’s very demanding and I am absolutely delighted that it is, but I am slightly nervous that it will cause too much trouble and then Burghley as a course will be blamed when in fact what should be blamed is the steps below it aren’t sufficient.”

"I wouldn't mind sitting on the mare of Michael Jung's" Fischerrocana FST Photo by Samantha Clark

“I wouldn’t mind sitting on the mare of Michael Jung’s” fischerRocana FST. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Which horse would Lucinda pick to ride around the course?

“I wouldn’t mind sitting on the mare of Michael Jung’s [fischerRocana FST] because I think she’s been taught to find her way across country and think for herself, and hopefully she’s scopey enough! She’s certainly scopey enough to jump a fence as big as this, but there’s thirty of them.

“The other thing I shall be very interested to see is Michael Jung I don’t think will ever have hit a course that demands such a level of fitness so I’ll be interested to see if his horses are fit enough. He’s such a consummate professional and such a brilliant man that I can’t believe they won’t be, and I know where he lives on the Bavarian hills so I think they’ll be fine.

“There’s another horse I’m looking forward to watching — Cooley Business Time with Georgie Strang, I think that’s a really, really good little horse, it’s the first time here for both of them so it’s a big ask. I wouldn’t want anything too big because I’d want to be able to keep up a rhythm and just keep galloping, and they’d be able to just shorten their own stride if they were wrong and get over the fence; a great, big rangy horse will get quite tired I would think, from being pulled together all the time.”

Many, many thanks to Lucinda for her time and words of wisdom. Cross country starts within an hour and we’ll be live tweeting as well as joining Horse and Hound‘s live stream commentary. Wishing all the riders and their teams the very best rides today, safe and speedy, and fingers crossed for a good day’s sport. Go Lucinda Green the legend, and Go Eventing at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials Cross Country Day.

David O’Connor Breaks Down Team USA’s Burghley So Far

U..S Team Coach David O'Connor watching one of his riders prepare for dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials today. Photo by Samantha Clark. U..S Team Coach David O'Connor watching one of his riders prepare for dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials today. Photo by Samantha Clark.

U.S. Team Coach David O’Connor was kind enough to stop and chat this afternoon at Burghley once all the dressage was over and discuss the U.S. performances thus far, and his expectations for them cross country on Saturday. On the whole he was pleased with the way the first two days panned out for Team USA.

“I thought the quality of all of them was good, but there were little things that took away from the scores being under 45. It’s not that electric of a ring; I think it’s intimate enough that it’s not that electric. Sometimes the big rings at places like Kentucky can be more electric because everything is so far away. But with smaller rings like this, they don’t tend to change as much as they can in other rings. The horses I thought all performed and went well, it was just little mistakes that kept them from being below 45, which to me is the big mark.”

Comparing Burghley today to say, eleven years ago when Andrew Hoy won on Moonfleet as we talked about yesterday in the press conference,  David is in agreement that the depth of quality has increased exponentially.

“There were always one or two people or horses that were playing dressage at this level. Now there are 18 or 20 that are playing at a very high level. It’s not just the quality of it, it’s more the numbers of people who have risen to that level. That’s changed the competitiveness, and that’s a very healthy thing for the sport.”

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights in the dressage phase at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2015. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights in the dressage phase at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2015. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Speaking of the good old days, David did of course fondly remember Giltedge — who passed away yesterday at 29 years of age — and maintains he would have been a competitive horse today, although he never brought him to Burghley,

“I never thought that this was his course, it wasn’t his type of course. He wasn’t the fastest horse in the world but he was so competitive in his mind, he tried so hard in everything that he did, he was SO competitive, he just loved being in the game but I never brought him here. This is not the course for every horse; you can have Olympic Champions and World Championship horses that will win those but they aren’t all Burghley horses.

“I think Giltedge would be just as competitive today, in a general market in the sport, there’s no question because he was very consistent in the dressage, in the 30s — a 41 was a bad score for him. He always jumped clear in the show jumping, and the cross country he just hammered on it, so I think he would have been very, very competitive today as he was then. He had all his changes; none of it would have been an issue.”

The cross country, of course, looms large tomorrow, in fact it looms enormous (click here to preview the course), but David is hopeful that the squad here this weekend will get the job done,

“We walked the course yesterday. I’ve been around it three times already. They’ve been walking it on their own today, and we’ll come back to talk about it this evening. It’s a fitness course. Going the other way around, I think the terrain will have more of an effect than it has in the past years, so it could play very much into these Thoroughbreds in lots of ways. It will be a big day tomorrow.”

Lynn Symansky and her OTTB XC specialist Donner the Deer. Photo by Samantha Clark

Lynn Symansky and her OTTB XC specialist Donner the Deer. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Lynn Symansky and Laine Ashker are of course both sitting on OTTBs, or ex-racehorses as they’re better known over here, and David wants them to capitalise on their opportunity to make a move,

“I really want Lynn to think about going for it and being very competitive; it should be a very good day for her. I think with Colleen’s horse being the youngest, she will need to go out and try to make it a good day for him. If he’s getting impressed, she might need to take some longer routes. I think Lainey is going to go for it. Even though it’s her first time here, it’s an older horse and this is why she brought him. I think she’ll take a crack at it.”

Laine Ashker and her OTTB Anthony Patch on the eve of Land Rover Burghley cross country day. Photo by Samantha Clark

Laine Ashker and her OTTB Anthony Patch on the eve of Land Rover Burghley cross country day. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Nervously anticipating a full day tomorrow and hopefully a successful one for our U.S. riders and adopted Irishman. Eventing Nation will be joining the Horse and Hound live stream again at this link, but also live tweeting the cross country from our Twitter account for anyone who can’t be chained to a laptop all day. There is no live stream for Burghley, but you can watch on demand video soon after each rider completes at this link.

Many thanks to David and all the U..S riders for their time and patience talking to EN this weekend; fingers crossed for some celebratory interviews popping up online this time tomorrow. Go Cross Country fast and safe, Go Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and Go Eventing!

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Wrapping Up the Dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

William Fox Pitt and Fernhill Pimms share the Burghley dressage lead with Germany's Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST. Photo by Samantha Clark. William Fox Pitt and Fernhill Pimms share the Burghley dressage lead with Germany's Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST. Photo by Samantha Clark.

As we head into the cross country on Saturday Michael Jung retains his Day One lead on fischerRocana FST but shares it overnight with William Fox-Pitt on four star first timer Fernhill Pimms. Australia’s Sam Griffiths moves into third place on his faithful campaigner Happy Times. Australia’s Andrew Hoy slips a place to fourth, and Tim Price and Oliver Townend occupy equal fifth position on Ringwood Sky Boy and Armada.

Sam Griffiths and Happy Times move into 3rd place after dressage at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2015 Photo by Nico Morgan

Sam Griffiths and Happy Times move into 3rd place after dressage at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2015. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Sam Griffiths now has two horses in the top 15 as Badminton winner Paulank Brockagh lies 14th after the first phase, and both did personal bests today, “I’ve been really pleased with how they’ve gone today, but as you know tomorrow is another day. It’s a pretty daunting course but they’re both quite experienced horses.”

“I’ve been working hard on the dressage with Happy Times and it’s nice to know that even as you’re getting older you can still improve, or at least that’s what I like to think! It’s a massive course out there, and I think Mark Phillips has been quite fiendish with what he’s done, there are lots of corners and narrow places where you could run out, and I think it will be a course where you’ll never feel really good until you’ve finished it because there are so many places you can get caught out.”

“I always feel that the cross country at Burghley is the toughest in the world – it’s the terrain, the size of the fences and the intensity, it’s the ultimate test, they’ve got to be amazing horses to do this and luckily I’m sat on a couple. Anyone who gets round is on a really good horse.”

William Fox-Pitt acknowledges the crowds as he leaves the arena on Fernhill Pimms

William Fox-Pitt acknowledges the crowds as he leaves the arena on Fernhill Pimms. Photo by Samantha Clark.

William still seems in awe of his horse’s performance today at it’s first four star, “I was delighted with him; the fact that he coped so well with the atmosphere and the four flying changes — it’s a big step up and you have to admire a horse when they take that challenge and do so well. He’s a lovely horse to ride on the flat, he’s very easy and comfortable and he loves showing off, and I think there’s more to come which is exciting. “

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s cross country, “I think Mark Phillips has been very brave, everyone’s got their work cut out for them. It’s a big step up for my horse, I think he’s ready for the challenge but you never know until you ask the questions. He came here to hopefully put in a good performance and show me he’s one for the future, I just want him to go well, I don’t necessarily expect him to go clear inside the time but I want him to rise to that challenge and enjoy himself.”

At the moment William is planning on taking all the straight routes, but he has walked all the alternatives just in case, “He’s a very brave horse, he’s athletic and able but he’s quite green and he can be quite cheeky so it will be a case of just feeling how he is and if he needs a bit of an easy option at some stage I’ll certainly take it.”

Michael Jung and Fischerrocana share the Burghley dressage lead wtih William Fox-Pitt on Fernhill Pimms

Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST share the Burghley dressage lead wtih William Fox-Pitt on Fernhill Pimms. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST could not be beaten today, but is looking ahead to the cross country tomorrow, “I have two very good horses and we’ve had a few good runs this season so I’m not too nervous, but it’s always very special when you leave the start box for a four star course. You need to be very concentrated, you need to have a good feeling for the horse, for the condition also of the course, it’s a special moment. I think the conditions are perfect, we have good weather, we have perfect ground, we have a nice beginning of the course but then it gets very tough.”

La Biosthetique Sam also did a nice test but fluffed one canter change, “I am very happy with Sam, he was very good in the beginning and then we had a little mistake in the first flying change but all in all we had a good round.”

Oliver Townend and Armada impress again to move into fifth place after dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Photo by Nico Morgan

Oliver Townend and Armada impress again to move into fifth place after dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Photo by Nico Morgan.

Oliver Townend got the best score on his third and final horse, the quirky Armada, “We’re as good as we could be expeccted with all three: first horse was better than expected, second horse as expected, he was just green and he will be a good horse one day, and Armada — the good bits are getting better and better and the other bits are still there, but at the same time he’s getting closer every year. I think he got 68 the first time he came here!”

“Armada is a very good cross country horse, touch wood, but obviously getting older and occasionally I have to do things I never used to, like give him a squeeze, but I’m just happy to be here.  It’s the toughest Burghley I’ve ever seen, it’s the biggest Burghley in my living memory but I am looking forward to it.”

"It doesn't get any smaller but it does get more doable each time we walk it!" Laine and Valerie Ashker walking the Burghley XC with Lauren Sherill.

“It doesn’t get any smaller but it does get more doable each time we walk it!” Laine and Valerie Ashker walking the Burghley XC with Lauren Sherill. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Cross country starts at 11am Saturday morning and Lucinda Green agrees with practically everyone about the course, “It’s a corker!” She’s promised us a course preview in the morning so we’ll try and hold her to that if she stays still long enough.  In the meantime, we still have an update on Tiana Coudray to come later.

Spoiler alert — she’s now the proud part owner/rider of the 2015 5 year old Burghley Young Event Horse Champion. Hoping that all the riders manage to get some sleep tonight, not sure if I will! Thank you for making Eventing Nation part of your Burghley experience. Go Eventing at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials!

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Colleen Rutledge & Covert Rights Sitting Just Outside Burghley Top 20

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights on their way to a top 25 score in the dressage at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials Photo by Samantha Clark Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights on their way to a top 25 score in the dressage at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials Photo by Samantha Clark

Covert Rights showed real flashes of brilliance in his Land Rover Burghley dressage test this afternoon, an exciting sneak peek of how much more is still to come from this lovely, young horse and although owner/breeder/rider Colleen was pleased overall with his performance, she admitted it’s her nature to always want more and so was rueing what might have been.

“I’m never happy! He’s got so much more potential in there and I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to realise it today. He’s coming along and developing his ability to handle the astmosphere and it’s going to be a work in progress for a while. Am I happy I stayed in the ring? Absolutely! He gave me the best test he could today, but me being the rider that I am I always want more.”

After a beautiful entry and halt to start with (earning a 9 no less!) CR broke into canter in the medium trot, a result of him actually getting a bit quiet and behind her leg, Colleen said, but overall there was plenty to like, and now she looks ahead to the real test tomorrow.

“This is Burghley so this is never a dressage show. I’m excited to see how he copes when he goes out tomorrow; he does like big fences and he does like good questions and there’s plenty of both so can we string them all together? We’ll have to see! I absolutely love coming here, it’s a dream, to be able to come over and be a part of this history is just fantastic. It’s an amazing venue, an amazing course, everything is just unparalelled and it’s just fantastic.”

William Fox-Pitt and Fernhill Pimms tie for the lead at Burghley after a beautiful test Photo by Samantha Clark

William Fox-Pitt and Fernhill Pimms tie for the lead at Burghley after a beautiful test. Photo by Samantha Clark.

The atmosphere was buzzing still from the first test after lunch — William Fox-Pitt on Fernhill Pimms whose 34.3 provisional score was later amended to 34.2, tying him for the lead on Burghley first-timer Fernhill Pims with Michael Jung and his Rolex Kentucky winner fischerRocana FST.

Fernhill Pimms’ test was a sheer delight, but for one slight bobble in the change (three 4’s, which cost him the outright lead) but otherwise flawless, and William earned three 9s for his riding. Afterwards he thought that except for Chilli Morning’s test, this was probably one of his best scores at a four star, and he was especially pleased considering it’s the horse’s first  appearance at this level.

“I’m delighted, I think that’s a big deal for a first time four star horse; there was a great atmosphere in there and he really went his best, that’s all I can say, he couldn’t have done any better yet, it’s the first time he’s done that four star test in a competition so it bodes very well. He’s just got a lovely attitude and a presence, he’s lovely to ride. I’m hoping the next two days will be just as easy as that but I’m not sure they will!”

William has walked the course a few times already, “I think it’s quite a brave course; Mark Phillips certainly hasn’t backed off. I think the course this way round is going to be tougher, I think we all do. There’s a lot to jump — the first three fences are fine and then the rest…you’ve got to be up for it. I’ll find out a lot about my horse tomorrrow, he’s inexperienced to be here but I believe he’s mentally ready, he’s physically ready but he’s never seen anything like that. I’m hoping he’s genuine and goes through the flags and come home happy with him, and the rest is a bonus!”

Michael Jung is about to go so we’ll be back with the last report from Burghley dressage soon. If you missed the morning report, click here to read comments from Laine Ashker and Tim Bourke. Lynn Symansky and Laine Ashker are holding on to spots in the top 30 with some of the heavy hitters still to come.

Don’t forget to join Anna Ross Davies and Pippa Roome in the Horse & Hound live blog for top notch commentary here. Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of #LRBHT so far, and click here to watch videos on demand via Burghley TV. Thanks for visiting Eventing Nation today and Go USA at Burghley and Go Four Star Eventing!

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Two Americans in the Top 25 at Burghley on Friday Morning

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch strutting their stuff in the Burghley arena. Photo by Samantha Clark. Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch strutting their stuff in the Burghley arena. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch have amassed a collection of blue ribbons during their career because they can perform well in the little white box and then back it up with two solid jumping phases.

They’ve been U.S. Champion and Reserve Champion at Advanced the last two years and were at the top of the leaderboard after the first day of dressage earlier this spring at the Rolex Kentucky 4*, but none of this compares to Burghley and Laine admitted her nerves slightly got the better of her this morning and this was not their best test together, scoring 48.8 to put them in 23rd place at the moment, two spots behind Lynn Symansky and Donner.

“To be at Burghley is a dream come true — ever since I was a little girl it’s always been a dream to do the Olympics, the World Games and then Burghley and Badminton are on the same scale; just to even be here is such an honour.  I was pleased with Al today, I lost a little of the brilliance that I’m used to having, probably just from my nerves. I had one little blip in my changes that cost me dearly but having said that, I’m here, my horse did what he was supposed to do and it’s not going to be a dressage show, that’s for sure!”

“Compared to the events in the U.S., atmosphere is a huge difference here, the crowds … I think the biggest thing is that living on the East Coast of U.S. we ride against the best of the best of the Americans but when you come out to Europe you ride against the best of the best of the best so it’s quite an eye-opener; a 48 would be quite competitive at Rolex on the first day but not here.

“I plan on getting some great riding lessons tomorrow watching people on the cross country, Michael Jung, Jock Paget are here, people we don’t get to see on a regular basis — I’m just going to try and soak up the experience and really learn how to ride from them.

“The course is big, it’s tough, it’s Burghley, it’s what I expected. When I walk the course I don’t think it’s impossible and I see that I’ve done every single one of those questions at some point in my career with this horse; have I done them all on one course before? No, I just have to bring out the best in my horse and ride my best and get the job done.  I think it’s going to call for really agressive, scrappy riding, I’m going to have to go back to my cowboy roots!”

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch during their Land Rover Burghley 2015 dressage test

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch during their Land Rover Burghley 2015 dressage test. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Laine also made sure to mention the overwhelming support that helped her get here to Burghley after her test, “I did all my fund-raising on social media, I’ve got so many amazing followers, people who embrace the struggle of horses, and live their dreams vicariously through me on the way to get to their dreams.

“I genuinely feel like people want me to do well; I always say everybody has their own Rolex or Burghley, it doesn’t have to be four stars but just be a goal that they aspire to, and so I think they enjoy watching someone persevere and struggle though it because at the end of the day we’re all human. It’s awesome and I pray that I can be a good role model, for adults and kids alike. It’s great, it’s a joint effort and I literally woudn’t be here without them, I literally would not.”

Laine’s mum Valerie is of course here supporting, but so is her dad and his wife, best friend/groom Lauren Sherrill, and Rick Sample and Celia Rafalko, who are “dear friends of mine from my area; so not a ton of people here supporting me but they’re mighty — small and mighty!”

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality during their Land Rover Burghley dressage test Photo by Samantha Clark

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality during their Land Rover Burghley dressage test. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Tim Bourke, our honarary American by way of Ireland, was slightly disappointed with his test on Luckaun Quality, which scored 65.0. “The flat work has come on a bit since last year and he actually has been going really well but he came up here this morning and from the get-go the atmosphere got to him, it took a lot to get him back and get him going.

“I got him out here in the warm-up a little bit better but then when we went into the ring he just got a little too tense and I had to work hard to keep a cap on it and ended up having to ride the trot work a little backwards.  It’s not as atmospheric in there as Kentucky is, I’ll tell you that for nothing!”

Tim will spend the afternoon walking the course again, and is looking forward to the cross country tomorrow, “I’m thankful it’s not just a dressage show; it’s a good galloping course out there, big jumps, and hopefully that will suit him.  It’s big but it looks good, it looks fun and there’s nothing out there that looks impossible.

“It’s unrelenting, you’ll have to be on your game the whole way round. Obie’s a big, rangy jumper, he likes to gallop, he doesn’t turn terribly well so a lot of nice, straightforward lines out there that if you go the short way they’re daring you to take the big stride and be brave and that’s what suits him the best.”

Tim has made no secret of feeling very American this week especially, but doesn’t see himself switching allegiance officially any time soon, “I doubt it! Not for the time being anyway. There’s great opportunities if you ride for the U.S., and they have good funding, but I’m very proud to be Irish so I’ll stick with what I’ve done so far.”

Tim Price being congratulated by wife Jonelle and the whole of the NZ squad after a super test on Ringwood Sky Boy for 38.7 and 3rd currently

Tim Price being congratulated by wife Jonelle and the whole of the NZ squad after a super test on Ringwood Sky Boy for 38.7 and 3rd currently. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Sandwiched in between Laine and Tim Bourke’s tests I managed to catch fleeting glimpses of Tim Price making some magic happen on Ringwood Sky Boy, and indeed they broke into the 30s and now lie 3rd as we head into the Friday lunch break. Tim seemed delighted but also a little surprised, “I’m really happy with him, he’s not the most gifted dressage horse but the one thing he does do is he improves all the time.”

Mark Todd and Leonidas move into the top ten at the Friday lunch break with a smooth, lovely test

Mark Todd and Leonidas move into the top ten at the Friday lunch break with a smooth, lovely test. Photo by Samantha clark.

Also flying the flag for the Kiwis, Mark Todd was second in the arena this morning with Leonidas and their test looked wonderful, perhaps the judges were still waking up slowly because I think we all expected him to score even better than the 41.7 he was awarded, good enough for 8th place at the moment.

Fourth at Badminton in the spring this hose has looked so exciting for so long and now really seems to be fulfilling that promise; Mark confirmed that it would be this one and NZB Campino who would be his top choices for Rio next year, and that Leonidas is getting better all the time.

“My test went nearly to plan, you’re always hoping you can do better but he was pretty good. He can be a little bit tense but today he almost felt a little bit lazy so he’s growing up a bit, and we’ll keep working at it.” Like all the other riders Mark has a ton of respect for tomorrow’s cross country track, and wondered if anyone might go inside the time, “Jonelle (Price) is sitting on a very fast horse and it certainly plays into her hand; my horse is a good galloper …”

We’re on the lunch break now of this final day of dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, and we have plenty to look forward to this afternoon — Michael Jung will bring out his Olympic and WEG champion La Biosthetique Sam, six-time Burghley champion William Fox-Pitt has Fernhill Pimms, British Open Champion Nicola Wilson rides her Rolex Kentucky mount Annie Clover, former Badminton Champion Paul Tapner on Kilronan, Pippa Funnell … it goes on and on but of course we’re crossing everything for Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights who ride at 2:32pm GB time 9:32am US Eastern.

Don’t forget to join Anna Ross Davies and Pippa Roome in the Horse & Hound live blog for top notch commentary here. Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of #LRBHT so far, and click here to watch videos on demand via Burghley TV. Thanks for visiting Eventing Nation today and Go USA at Burghley and Go Four Star Eventing!

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Day 1 Leaders Talk Dressage in Burghley Press Conference

Press conference Day 1 Dressage Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials — Michael Jung, Niklas Bschorer and Andrew Hoy are your top three. Photo by Samantha Clark. Press conference Day 1 Dressage Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials — Michael Jung, Niklas Bschorer and Andrew Hoy are your top three. Photo by Samantha Clark.

While it was widely expected that a certain German, ahem Michael Jung, would be attending the press conference this afternoon, perhaps Niklas Bschorer, his young compatriot who lies 3rd overnight, was more of a surprise. He might be the youngest rider here but he shouldn’t be sucha shocker though.

He and Tom Tom Go did a spectacular test at Badminton this Spring and since leaving Chris Bartle’s base in Yorkshire he’s been based with Mark Todd at Badgerstown, and also gets help from his father; if you’re wondering who the next Michael Jung is, he may well be it.

Since Badminton he’s been working on non-specific flat work, and says he was pleased with his test today, “I’ve just been working on general things like keeping him relaxed, working on the outline, working on his paces and submission. At the end of the day he knows what to do in there and I thought he did a good job.”

His thoughts on the cross country, “It’s a very big course — there’s plenty to jump out there, plenty to gallop, and I think it will be very interesting, you have quite a few options at quite a few fences so it will be interesting to see where some of the riders might go. I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

Interestingly 2nd placed Andrew Hoy did his first Burghley when he was the same age as Niklas (he was 20 in 1979) and he won it that year. He was a winner again in 2004 and said it’s much different here today that it was even 11 years ago, “I can remember that I was riding a very different horse then, I was riding Moonfleet, a TB bred for racing; he was a horse that was v elegant to watch and to ride. With Moonfleet I just had to sit very still and not throw him out of his rhythm and balance, whether it be in the dressage, cross country or show-jumping.

“Today I feel the competition has moved on so far from where it was in 2004 — the sport is very different, the quality of the dressage has improved enormously and I know that the test that I rode today was a long way ahead of what I did in 2004.”

Andrew made it clear how grateful to his groom and what a team effort today’s result was, “I’ve been getting regular help from Gareth Hughes and like all of us here, any success and the performance today is not about one individual and one horse, it’s about a complete programme and a complete support team. My groom Avril Smith has only been with me for 12 months but she has got the best attitude of any groom that I think I’ve ever had working with me.”

Michael Jung professed to be happy with today’s test, especially as he said Fischerrocana is not used to going on a grass surface, “I think that this was nearly the best that we can do with the mare on a grass field. She was very relaxed and very focussed on everything I asked. I could do everything that I’ve worked on before, and I’m very happy about her.”

He did however also remark that today’s footing in the arena was exceptional, “The ground is not normally as good as it was today – today it was soft but you had a good grip so my horse felt very happy on it” He added that obviously she’s perfectly used to going cross country on it too, and as for Saturday’s course?

“I think there are many difficult fences, I think this is a really tough four star course but very nice, you have a few options depending on the experience of the horse and rider. I think we have a good beginning with big but friendly fences so you can have a good feeling in the beginning and a nice gallop. We will have a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it.”

Before then of course we have another day of dressage to go, and we’re massively excited to cheer on the rest of our US representatives Laine Ashker on Anthony Patch, and Colleen Rutledge on her homebred Covert Rights, and of course not to forget our honorary American, Irishman Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality.

Dressage starts tomorrow at 9am GB time and we can’t wait to bring you as much coverage as we can. Thanks again for being with Eventing Nation today on the first day of Burghley, it’s been exciting, a little bit chilly, incredibly well-organised and welcoming, and definitely one of our very favourite events on the calendar – Go the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and GO Eventing!

#LRBHT: WebsiteEntriesLive ScoresDressage TimesScheduleBurghley TVCourse PreviewEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram@samanthalclark

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Niklas Bschorer Takes 3rd place at Burghley Dressage 1st Day

Niklas Bschorer and Tom Tom Go 3 move into 3rd place after the first day of dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials on a score of 39.2

Niklas Bschorer and Tom Tom Go 3 move into 3rd place after the first day of dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials on a score of 39.2

The only really significant change in the leaderboard this afternoon at Burghley came at the very end of the day with the penultimate combination,  Niklas Bschorer and Tom Tom Go 3. The youngest rider here and contesting his first Burghley Niklas rode a cool, measured test scoring a 10 for his final halt.

Like compatriot Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST, Niklas might not have been sitting on the best mover of the day, but the consistency and accuracy throughout their test made it hard to take any marks away from him. Niklas has been based here in England for a couple of years now, and trains with his parents.

As we await the press conference Andrew Hoy separates the two German men, and the best Brit remains Rosalind Canter who now sits in fourth place. Lynn Symansky and Donner will lie in the top 15 overnight as they finished the day in 14th place, a tremendous result. Jodie Amos and Wisecrack slot into 9th after a nice test earlier this afternoon.

Niklas Bschorer leaves the Burghley arena after a super test for 39.2, good enough for 3rd place at the end of the first day of dressage

Niklas Bschorer leaves the Burghley arena after a super test for 39.2, good enough for 3rd place at the end of the first day of dressage. Photo by Samantha Clark.

The temperatures seem to be falling all the time, it’s chilly but it’s still dry.  Much more to come from the press conference as we wrap up the first day of Dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. In the meantime, click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage so far, and click here to watch videos on demand via Burghley TV.

#LRBHT: WebsiteEntriesLive ScoresDressage TimesScheduleBurghley TVCourse PreviewEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram@samanthalclark

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