While Germany’s Malin Hansen-Hotopp has held on to the lead she established in the feature CCI4*-L class at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials yesterday with Carlito’s Quidditch K, top British rider Piggy March stormed ahead in the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses with a brilliant performance on Jayne McGivern’s nine-year-old stallion Halo.
Piggy, who won the CCI5* at Burghley two weeks ago, scored 21.3 to give herself a two-mark lead over Hayden Hankey his own and Catherine Witt’s Heads Up.
Piggy said: “It is really exciting. I haven’t had much experience with stallions before, but he’s a really cool little horse – about 16 hands on tiptoes – but he never feels small to ride and I’m sure people would say he probably doesn’t look it. He’s very uphill and has got loads of movement and presence – he’s a much bigger horse in his personality and character.
“I was thrilled to bits with him today. It’s a big thing for these young horses, and it has gone a bit chilly today so the horses are fresh. The flags are flapping and the flowers are moving so there is quite a lot of atmosphere in there. I am chuffed with his brain; how he stayed with me and really showed himself off with loads of presence. He is a really exciting horse for the future.”
Emily King and Imposant are not far behind Hayden and Heads Up on 25.2 for third place.
Saturday is cross-country day at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, and Piggy discussed David Evans’ track, saying: “It’s always a very educational course for these young advanced horses. It’s an amazing occasion for them to run through the park and get all the atmosphere for their future. The crowd and the occasion is a big thing for these young horses. There are not many places they will go to that have a Saturday like Blenheim, and this will probably be the first day that they get cheers and crowds around them.
“It’s a great track and I am very interested and excited to see how my horse copes with it. It’s so beautifully built and inviting – a perfect step up to their big time in life. It’s also a fair track and offers some questions that we will have to make sure we do the right thing for.”
The passing of Her Majesty the Queen has been marked by a two-minute silence each day at Blenheim, and Piggy said: “Everyone has been in mourning. The Queen has been amazing and most of us know no different – we feel a bit lost and think, ‘What now?’
“The Queen touched so many people and was a hero to all of us. She was the most amazing woman and for us it’s amazing that she was so involved in our sport. She was such a horse, animal and countryside lover. She would love being here at Blenheim Palace as much as we all do.”
Checking in on the North American riders who did their dressage today:
- Valerie Pride and Favian scored a 33.1 and are in 25th ahead of cross country in the massive 4*-L division
- Gillian Beale King and Richard Ames’ Rebeliant scored a 45.5
- Canada’s Kathryn Robinson and Cloud K scored a 31.7 in the 4*-S
Here’s a look at some social media from Friday at Blenheim: