Your Big Bad Blenheim CCI3* Dressage Report: Krajewski Leads, 2 Americans in Top 10

The Beyonce of eventing? Let’s roll with that. Photo by Libby Law.

We all saw it coming, right? Julia Krajewski, the Queen of All Things, was BOUND to put a competitive score on the board – and when she did, she really did. Riding Chipmunk FRH, she threw her cards down on the table in the final group of the day at Blenheim and scored 33.4.

I can only assume that Julia will scrap the salute and finish her tests like this from now on.

“I normally don’t get nervous before dressage, but when you’re right at the end you have time to think about it,” she said. “This is the highlight of Chipmunk’s season – he was my reserve horse for the Europeans, so he was fittened up for that, and we thought Blenheim would be a good alternative.”

Chipmunk may have been overshadowed by the success of stablemate Samourai du Thot, but Julia rates him as a serious horse for the future – and his impressive international record would agree.

“I think he’s happy that he’s here on his own, and not with the little monkey with him, who’s always more important because he does more stupid things,” she laughs. “He wants to please and he’s very genuine – if he understands something, he’ll do it. He’s very clever.”

Apparently spurred on by all the #girlpower in the air, Pippa Funnell entered the arena straight after Julia and clocked up a 35.7 aboard MGH Grafton Street.

Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border show off their best moves to sit third in the CCI***. Photo by Libby Law.

An impeccable test earned Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border a score of 37.8, catapulting them into the lead before the lunch break today. The gelding has spent the summer in Ireland after retiring on course at the Tattersalls CCI*** in May. The duo have since recorded a second-place finish at Millstreet’s CIC***, putting them in a confident position ahead of the rest of the week’s competition.

“He was very, very good, very obedient, and very relaxed,” said Kim after her test. “I missed the timing on the last change, and the last halt was a bit abrupt, but it was a lovely test, and I felt that we were both present and in the same picture.”

Kim, who is contesting Blenheim for the first time in sixteen years, hopes to fly Cross home after Blenheim.

“As long as he’s good!” she laughed. They sit in 3rd place overnight – a promising start for Cross’ dreams of returning to his own bed!

Hannah Sue Burnett means business in her last competition in the UK with RF Demeter. Photo by Libby Law.

In the ring directly after Kim was Hannah Sue Burnett – and her performance with RF Demeter only bolstered spirits in the American camp. Their score was originally announced as 38, slotting them into second place, but this was later revised to 39.7. This puts them into 6th place going into Saturday’s competition.

“It’s still a new partnership but every time I take her out I feel like she’s more and more with me, and like she’s really my horse now,” explained Hannah about her relationship with the mare, known as Demi. “What an incredible animal – I can’t say enough good things about her. She knows her job, and she loves showing off, and it’s just really fun – I enjoy every moment riding her.”

Hannah has spent the summer based in the United Kingdom, and will return to her Virginia base next Wednesday – but first, she aims to have a strong result here to take home with her.

The palace/porta-loo dichotomy in the collecting ring is a searing metaphor for Britain’s ongoing grapple with class…either that, or I didn’t notice it until it was too late and my Photoshop skills aren’t up to toilet removal. You decide.

Doug Payne and Vandiver flew out to the UK after the American Eventing Championships a fortnight ago, and spent a few days at Jesse Campbell’s yard before moving into Blenheim base camp on Monday. This is Vandiver’s first international trip, and he’s obviously been totally unfazed by the entire experience: “he loves the grass arena – we did the familiarisation yesterday and he was chowing down, helping the lawnmowers,” laughed Doug. “He’s very comfortable here, and that’s a big thing for him.”

Doug was one of the recipients of the USET Foundation’s Jacqueline B. Mars Competition and Training Grant, which supports American riders, giving them the opportunity to compete on the world stage. No stranger to competitive pressure, Doug gave the horse an educational experience in the ring.

“I think it’s the best he’s been yet, and hopefully the beginning of things to come. He’s getting stronger every day and I think in time he’s going to be great,” he said. The pair earned 46.6, and stand equal 18th overnight.

British-based Tiana Coudray has been steadily building her business on this side of the pond over the past few years, and her entry in the CCI*** this weekend is a new ride to her – in the international rings, at least.

“It’s a bit of an unusual story, actually,” she said. “I’ve had the horse in my yard for about three years and would do all the work at home and all the fittening work with him, but I don’t really know him in the competition ring.”

Her horse, Under the Clocks, was bought off the racetrack as a five-year-old by Australian eventer Murray Lampard, who produced the horse to CCI**** level and contested the team trials for the London 2012 Olympics. The pair didn’t make the team, but because the flight is so taxing on the horses – and expensive for the people responsible for them – Murray made the decision to keep ‘Ninja’ in the UK, and make the trips back and forth himself to ride and compete him.

“I would do a Prelim on him, then an Intermediate on him, and then Murray would fly in and go ride round Burghley!” explained Tiana. “But the Lampards eventually realised that it didn’t make sense for them to keep spending the money on coming back over here, and so they made the really hard decision that he needed to be sold, which was heartbreaking for everyone. Then somebody rang me up and said they wanted to help me, and they bought him for me. Losing the ride on a horse has happened to me a few times over the last few years so when I got the call I was speechless – I didn’t know what to say. It was amazing.”

Tiana and Ninja produced a quiet, consistent test to score 48.2, putting them in 28th place going into cross-country.

“It’s all still trial and error with him,” she said. “I’m still working out how long I should warm him up, whether I ride him before or the day before, whether I take him for a gallop. But I’m really happy with him – he was impeccably behaved, maybe even a bit conservative and lacking a bit of sparkle. In his test at Barbury he got really lit up by the atmosphere, so my goal for today was to keep him quiet and get him to settle, which he did.”

Andrea Baxter rerouted Indy 500 after an early fall at Burghley, but some costly errors dropped them down the scoreboard, and they posted a 63.1 to sit in 81st place.

“I’ve been working really hard since Burghley to change her outline, so in some ways it was very good,” she says. “But there were a lot of mistakes – I think I was just thinking too hard about what my trainer would want, and so I just forgot the test!”

But the dressage is just the first phase, and Blenheim’s meaty course – and palatial setting – is the real draw for riders.

“It’s not Burghley, but it really builds as it goes along and gets a lot trickier – it looks good,” said Andrea.

The People’s Horse goes into 8th place with Jonty Evans after the second day of dressage. Photo by Libby Law.

The biggest cheer in the main arena was earned by Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift, who produced a lovely test to post a 40 on the scoreboard. They go into Saturday’s cross-country in 8th place.

“It feels great to be here. When we finished the test and came out there was a big cheer from the crowd, which was fantastic – it’s lovely to have their support,” said Jonty. “The test felt good, although possibly not quite as clean as his test at Badminton, but it’s only his second time in a dressage arena since then, so we’ve got to give him his due – he did really well, and I’m pleased with him. I don’t feel the pressure of the crowds – it feels like they’re here to support him, and it’s just lovely to know they appreciate him as much as we do.”

The level of appreciation and enthusiasm I have for Cooley Rorkes Drift is approximately this much. No shame, and shrug emojis galore.

The prestigious 8 and 9-year-old CIC*** kicked off today with the first day of dressage. In the lead at the end of the day is Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto, who scored a 40.7 with Brookpark Vikenti. Kazuma has spent the season based with William Fox-Pitt, and has obviously benefitted from his tutelage – this is only his second season eventing.

“William and Jackie Potts, his head girl, give me a lot of help,” he explained. “But when I walked the course with William, he said, ‘it’s easy!’ But it’s not to me!”

I feel you, Kazuma. Those pesky Very Tall Eventers always seem to find everything easy.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more eventing madness from across the pond, as the 8 and 9-year-old CIC*** dressage continues and the ERM dressage kicks off. Stay tuned and source yourself an end-of-summer Pimms for an authentic Blenheim experience!

The top-ten as it stands going into cross country at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.

The US rider results going into cross country in the CCI*** are as follows:

  • 3rd – Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border – 37.8
  • 6th – Hannah Sue Burnett and RF Demeter – 39.7
  • =18th – Doug Payne and Vandiver – 46.6
  • =24th – Liz Halliday-Sharpe and Carpe Diem IV – 47.1
  • 28th – Tiana Coudray and Under the Clocks – 48.2
  • 41st – Lauren Kieffer and Landmarks Monte Carlo – 50.5
  • 81st – Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 – 63.1

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