Competition Heats Up on Day Three of Land Rover Blair Castle International

Emilie Chandler and Gortfadda Diamond. Photo courtesy of Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials.

The action continued on Saturday at Land Rover Blair Castle Horse Trials in Perthshire, Scotland. Here’s your recap!

A Class Apart: Emilie Chandler Retains Lead in CCI4*-L

Emilie Chandler proved a class apart across country in the CCI4*-L at Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials, and has a sizable lead going into the final show jumping phase.

Leicestershire-based Emilie was much the fastest of the class, adding just 3.2 time-faults to her dressage score of 31.8 on Maria Doel’s 10-year-old Gortfadda Diamond. She has 13.1 penalties in hand over second-placed Rosa Onslow and Diamond Sundance.

“I’m thrilled – he gave me a fantastic ride,” said Emilie. “He never really tired and kept galloping for me. I think he’s real class – an out-and-out event horse who’s good in all three phases.

“It was a good cross country course: very fair, and I like the way this year the course made sure they had got their blood up before they went uphill.”

Rosa, 20, recently represented Britain at the Young Rider European Eventing Championships in The Netherlands on 13-year-old Diamond Sundance. This is their first CCI4*-L competition, and they were clear across country with 11.2 time-faults. Simon Grieve and Mr Fahrenheit III are in third place after collecting 13.2 time penalties.

Daisy Berkeley & Ballinteskin Cooper S. Photo by Iain Campbell.

Daisy Rides Her Luck in the CCI4*-S

Daisy Berkeley has held on to her lead in the CCI4*-S after showjumping with a clear round on Ballinteskin Cooper S. The 10-year-old threw Daisy up into the air over fence three and it wasn’t the smoothest round they have jumped together, but they never looked in danger of touching a pole and remain on their dressage score of 30.4.

“I nearly fell off over fence three – both my knees came off the saddle and my hat tipped forward over my eyes,” admitted Daisy, who has won several team medals for Britain at major championships in the past. “But he has so much scope and wasn’t ever going to touch a fence. Now I am going to have to go fast across country tomorrow!”

Sam Ecroyd also showjumped clear on Davinci III and is in second place, just 0.1 of a penalty behind Daisy. Third is Perthshire’s Wills Oakden, whose clear round on Oughterard Cooley means he stays on his dressage mark of 34.2 and climbs up from ninth place after the first phase.

There were just seven showjumping clear rounds in Land Rover Blair Castle’s large, atmospheric arena. France’s Astier Nicolas, who was in joint second place with Sam after dressage, tipped the second part of the double and is now in fourth place with Babylon De Gamma, while Northumberland rider Jessica McKie’s clear on Ask The Boss means she is in fifth place.

The CCI4*-S competitors tackle course-designer Alec Lochore’s cross-country track at 10.30am on Sunday morning, and the showjumping phase of the three long-format international classes follows on from that.

Eleanor Hope & Limestone Romeo. Photo by Iain Campbell.

Hope Springs in the CCI3*-L

Tomorrow (Sunday, 25 August), could be a very big day for Eleanor Hope. It’s her 20th birthday – and she heads the CCI3*-L going into showjumping.

Eleanor, who has travelled up to Land Rover Blair Castle from Aylesbury, was 13th after dressage on eight-year-old Limestone Romeo with 36.1, but a clear cross-country round within the time has propelled her up to first.

“He was point and shoot today,” said Eleanor, a student at Reading University. “His dressage is improving, but he just loves to jump. He’s a good showjumper – I’m not so good. Hopefully he will help me out tomorrow.”

Cross-country speed was significant in this class. Victoria Wilson, now second on Don’t You Know, just 0.6 penalties behind Eleanor, and Ashley Harrison (Zebedee IX), third, shot up from 14th and 15th places after dressage. French duo Astier Nicolas and Lumberton, leaders going into cross-country, had a run-out at the brush corner coming out of the water.

Polly Stockton and Sir Alfred II. Photo by Iain Campbell.

No Margin for Error in the CCI2*-L

Polly Stockton, who already has two international wins at Land Rover Blair Castle to her credit, is in pole position in the CCI2*-L with Sir Alfred II. She shared second position after dressage with Germany’s Josephine Schnaufer (Ronaldo IV) on 30.5; both riders went clear across country with no time-faults, but Polly was closer to the optimum time so officially took the lead.

Josephine, who is also in fifth place on seven-year-old Viktor 107, said: “I bought Ronaldo IV from the Czech Republic as a seven-year-old. He wasn’t at all easy at the beginning but is getting better and better – he’s a real pleasure to ride now.

“I thought it was a technical, tough CCI2*-L track when I walked it, but it was really fun to ride. The questions were clear to the horses.”

This is Josephine’s third visit to Land Rover Blair Castle, and she said: “It is one of the nicest events, and really good preparation for horses for the future.”

Hayden Hankey and the six-year-old mare Cartown Galaxy are just 0.1 penalties behind Polly and Josephine in third place.

“I bought her last summer when I went over to Ireland to judge hunters at Dublin Show,” said Hankey. “She’s one of the best I’ve ridden – straight, fast and brave.”

Rose Macpherson & HHS Canya. Photo by Douglas Lamont.

Equine ‘Allsorts’ Impress on Day Two of the Grassroots Championships

Rose Macpherson and HHS Canya retained their overnight lead in the BE100 Scottish Grassroots Championship after they posted one of only seven clear rounds in this morning’s show jumping phase, which again took  place in Land Rover Blair Castle International’s imposing main arena.

The seven-year-old has the pedigree for the job, being by Shane Breen’s Nations Cup ride Can Ya Makan. However, Rose admitted that the mare can be very sharp and, while genuine, likes to have a good look at anything that she doesn’t feel looks ‘quite right’.

“This was the biggest arena she’s been in and it was certainly a real eyeful for her,” Rose said.

The pair heads into tomorrow’s cross-country phase on a score of 25.3, a full five penalties ahead of closest rivals, Crieff-based Eilidh Macaulay with Rockcon. Reckcon is another mare with impressive show jumping lines – she is by William Funnell’s long time partner Billy Congo and out of Billy Rockaway, herself by Cevin Z.

A clear round from Emma Buchanan and Blaze ensured they retained the third place they had held after dressage on 30.5.

The rest of the leader board was shuffled quite considerably but the competition is far from over. There are just over 10 penalties between the top 15 going into the cross-country and the track will inevitably play a big part in the final standings.

“I think it’s a strong track,” said Rose Macpherson. “There are several technical questions and I think the water will be influential as a lot of the horses at this level just won’t have seen the number of spectators that those fences attract.”

Fourteen year old Cameron Swales from East Lothian and Machno Showtime rose from equal fourth after dressage to the top of the leader board in the BE90 Championship, taking full advantage of those who were above them rolling poles.

The pair goes into cross-country on a combined score of 29.8, the same as second placed Gillian Edward riding Benny Station. However, Cameron and Showtime have the advantage courtesy of a faster show jumping round.

“I’m really pleased with him,” said Gillian after her round. “he found the arena very atmospheric yesterday and backed off a bit today – show jumping isn’t our strongest phase so I couldn’t be happier.”

Dressage leaders Leona Blacklaws and Shannondale Enya dropped to third after they lowered the final fence and now sit just .5 of a penalty ahead of fourth placed Rachael Aiton and Splash Of Fun on 30.5.

Proving that event horses can come from all backgrounds, 5th placed Ruby Red II, ridden by Cumbrian-based Claire Light, is an ex-trekking pony who only began eventing when Claire offered to do some rehab work with her for owner Deborah Hogg after the mare broke a leg.

“I persuaded Deborah to let me do some BE80(T) classes with her,” said Claire, “and she’s amazed us ever since. She gets so excited but we’ll have to go flat out tomorrow to get the time – she’s 100% cob but doesn’t seem to know it!”

The final cross-country phase for the BE90 section starts tomorrow at approximately 12.30, followed by the BE100.

Amy Ogilvie & L.A Diamond. Photo by Alasdair Lamont.

Grassroots Riders Rise to the Challenge

Competitors in the Scottish Grassroots Eventing Festival at Land Rover Blair Castle International performed their dressage tests in the main arena today, either side of the CCI4* short format riders. Hunter class winner from yesterday, Amy Ogilvie riding L.A Diamond, admitted: “It was pretty scary to be riding alongside William Fox-Pitt – fortunately ‘Erin’ behaved herself.”

West Lothian based Amy only started eventing in May, and this is L.A Diamond’s third ever event, having qualified for the Championships first time out, at Hopetoun.

Leading the BE90 class is 21-year-old Leona Blacklaws from Kincardineshire. Leona recently graduated from Glasgow University and is taking a year out to ride. Her partner is the seven-year-old mare Shannondale Enya.

“I’ve had her for two years, but it took a year to really get up and running and build her confidence,” Leona explained. “She can be spooky but was settled today so I was pleased with her test.

“I’ve done showjumping classes at Blair before but it’s been on my ‘bucket list’ to event here. I loved riding in the main arena!”

Sitting on a dressage score of 26.5, Leona has a narrow lead over second placed Rhyian Skinner who rode Watt The Fox to a mark of 28.0, while Amanda Waugh on Fan Daby Angus is still very much in the mix on 28.5.

Meanwhile the BE100 Championship is headed by last year’s BE100 Champion Rose Macpherson, this year riding HHS Canya. This combination has not been out of the top eight this season, and today posted a score of 25.3. Rose’s nearest rival is Lara Bayley Kerr riding Far N Away on 26.0, with Keeley Gordon (Thunder VII) and Emma Buchanan (Blaze) tied for third place on 26.5.

The Scottish Grassroots Championships showjumping starts tomorrow at 8.30am. They run across country on Sunday.

Rosie Findlater & Ffermyllong Spice Girl. Photo by Iain Campbell.

Young and Old Shine at Blair: Day Two Showing

It was another busy day of showing today with the NPS Scotland Finals and Silver Medal Championships taking place across three arenas. Some familiar faces from yesterday’s classes found themselves in the ribbons again, with prize winners, equine and human, ranging from yearlings to octogenarians. We caught up with a handful of the winners.

It was a Dumfries 1-2 in the Mountain and Moorland Senior Championships with Gillian McMurray’s Highland pony Trailtrow Tearlach adding to yesterday’s prize haul when he was crowned Champion. Richard Telford and Castle Neptune were Reserve Champions.

Both Gillian and Richard featured in several other prize givings throughout the day. Gillian and Trailtrow Tearlach were also crowned Senior and Overall NPS Scotland/Townhead Pet n Pony In Hand Mountain and Moorland Champions. Richard produced the six-year-old Connemara Castle Neptune and the six year old has enjoyed success in his five shows to date under the saddle.

Owned by Winsome Aird and bred by Henry O’Toole, Castle Neptune was only gelded in March:

“I’m so pleased with him,” said Richard. “He kept his balance really well but he still needs to strengthen up. He’ll go to HOYS and then have the winter off.”

He had to settle for the bridesmaids position again in the Mountain and Moorland Open Ridden Final, this time riding the eye-catching Highland gelding Jack The Lad Of Ednam House into Reserve Champion status behind winners Joanna Jack and Margaret Of Meggernie, another combination on Championship winning form yesterday:

“It’s amazing, I’m going to retire now,” joked Jo. “I’m just an amateur really.”

Eastlands Stud owner John Staveley belied his 85 years as he ran around the arenas, taking the NPS/Kilmannan Stud In Hand Silver Medal Rosette Championship with Eastlands Rashiebrae.

At the other end of the age spectrum six year old Rosie Findlater and her eight year old grey mare Ffermyllong Spice Girl, aka Molly, won both the Mountain and Moorland lead rein and overall led rein and first ridden championship.

Molly was Rosie’s Christmas present last year and, amazingly, the eight-year-old was only backed in April, having enjoyed a former career as a companion on a showjumping yard.

Juliet Rogers’ 12hh Exmoor stallion Barhill Danny was victorious in Mountain and Moorland Working Hunter Pony not exceeding 12hh and was then subsequently crowned overall champion under Gail Whetter:

“I bred Danny out of my Riding Club mare,” explained Juliet. “He was her first foal. He’s had some kind of virus for the last four weeks and hasn’t been ridden so this was his first outing for a while and he was very pleased to be out and about.”

This report has been adapted from a press release.

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