That’s a Wrap for 2019 Land Rover Blair Castle International

Sunday saw the finale of international divisions at Land Rover Blair Castle. Here’s a recap of the CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L, CCI2*-L results.

Emilie Chandler & Gortfadda Diamond. Photo by Julia Shearwood.

CCI4*-L: Emilie Has a Real Diamond

Emilie Chandler won her first ever CCI4*-L event here at Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials with Maria Doel’s Gortfadda Diamond, a horse who she believes has real 5* potential.

The pair had the luxury of three fences in hand over runners-up Rosa Onslow and Diamond Sundance going into the show jumping arena but they required none of this buffer, concluding their Blair campaign with a classy clear round, although like all competitors in this small class, they picked up time faults.

“I’m thrilled he jumped clear,” admitted Emily. “This win is really special as I think an awful lot of him and I’ve not been this close to a big win since finishing second in the U25 Championship at Bramham in 2002.”

Gortfadda Diamond was none the worse for wear after posting the fastest cross-country time on Saturday.

“He felt quite bright in the collecting ring,” said Emily, “and I was almost thinking I should have worked him harder. He’s just an amazing horse – he’s come on so much in the last year and I’m very proud of him.”

Scotland’s Rosa Onslow and Diamond Sundance added just .8 of a time penalty to their two-phase score to finish second, with Simon Grieve and Mr Fahrenheit III third.

Astier Nicolas and Babylon de Gamma. Photo by Douglas Lamont.

CCI4*-S: French rider Crowned Scottish Open Champion

Speed and accuracy across country handed French Olympic gold medallist Astier Nicolas victory in the CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials.

Astier and the exciting grey eight-year-old Babylon De Gamma had dropped from second after dressage to fourth with a pole down in Saturday’s showjumping phase. But they were the fastest of the class round Land Rover Blair Castle’s director and cross-country course-designer Alec Lochore’s track, picking up just 5.6 time-faults, and when leader Daisy Berkeley was not quite so fast aboard Ballinteskin Cooper S, the 30-year-old Frenchman climbed to the top of the podium.

It was Astier’s second Land Rover Blair Castle victory in as many visits; he took the CCI4*-L here on Quickly Du Buguet in 2014.

“It feels very exotic to be Scottish Champion!” he said. “Babylon is a top horse – I’ve always said so, and he showed it again today. I didn’t rush him cross-country, but he was always going smoothly; he did it easily and recovered really well afterwards. He showed pure class.”

Sam Ecroyd finished second, 0.4 penalties behind Astier, on Vicki Irlam’s Davinci III, a new ride for him this season.

Equal second after dressage with the eventual winners, Sam and the 13-year-old gelding showjumped clear but were a little steadier across country for 10 time-faults.

“I don’t know him hugely well yet, but he improves every single time I ride him,”said Sam.

Daisy Berkeley was initially awarded 15 penalties for missing a flag at a skinny brush corner coming out of the Malcolm Lochan water complex, but those were taken away on appeal to the ground jury and she finished third on 10-year-old Ballinteskin Cooper S, who is owned by Daisy, her mother Caroline Dick, Roxana White and Mary Scott-Gall.

Local rider Wills Oakden, who is based in Perthshire, took fourth on Debbie Whalley and Liz Magennis’s nine-year-old Oughterard Cooley. A clear showjumping round and eight cross-country time-faults moved him up from ninth after dressage.

Wills, the highest-placed Scottish rider, said: “I’m delighted with him; he’s a cross-country machine, which is what Blair is all about.”

And Northumberland’s Jessica McKie achieved her best result to date with fifth place on her mother Tockie’s Ask The Boss.

Land Rover Blair Castle’s cross-country tracks, which utilise the varied and demanding terrain surrounding the castle, are never to be underestimated, and the CCI4*-S course caused a few problems. William Fox-Pitt, three times a winner here, was unseated in the later stages of the course from Yes I Can, seventh after dressage.

Eleanor Hope & Limestone Romeo. Photo by Julia Shearwood.

CCI3*-L: Eleanor’s Birthday Hopes Come True

Eleanor Hope celebrated her 20th birthday in fine style at Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials, winning the CCI3*-L class on Limestone Romeo.

Eleanor, a student at Reading University, was 13th after dressage with a mark of 36.1, but added nothing to that score to take her first senior international title.

“I’m very relieved – I didn’t expect it and it’s a very good birthday present,” said Eleanor. “The second and third riders both jumped clear and I knew I couldn’t even have a time-fault.”

Eleanor’s parents, Margaret and Simon, bought eight-year-old Limestone Romeo from the Goresbridge Going For Gold sale as a five-year-old, and Eleanor has produced him through the grades herself.

Victoria Wilson was second, just 0.6 of a penalty behind Eleanor, on Dont You Know. Victoria, 20, finished on her dressage score of 36.7 at her first long-format three-star event.

“I only came here for a qualifying score – I can’t believe it,” said Victoria. “He’s phenomenal – he’s the only horse I have to event, I did my first ever British Eventing competition on him; he’s taken me all this way and I hope we’ve got much further to go.”

Third was Ashley Harrison, who also completed on her dressage score (38) on Zebedee IX. It made up for quite a dramatic week for the 26-year-old: Ashley’s lorry broke down on the way up to Land Rover Blair Castle from her Hampshire home, she dropped her phone in the loo and Zebedee IX lost a shoe yesterday after the cross-country.

“But this makes up for it – it’s a brilliant event and I’ll definitely be back,” she said. “He made the cross-country feel as easy as it could be yesterday.”

Charlotte Parry-Ashcroft’s showjumping clear on Wil Jack B King meant she rose from seventh to fourth, while Emma Hobday and Shadow Copperwood finished fifth.

Hayden Hankey & Cartown Galaxy. Photo by Julia Shearwood.

CCI2*-L: A First Three Day Win for Hayden Hankey

Hayden Hankey scored his first ever international win in the CCI2*-L class at Land Rover Blair Castle. The Cheshire-based 39-year-old was foot-perfect in all three phases on the six-year-old Olympic Lux mare Cartown Galaxy and stayed on his dressage score of 30.6, rising from fourth after dressage to the top spot.

“It really is a great feeling – anyone can win a one-day event, but to win a three-day is very special,” said Hayden, who has made his mark in all aspects of horse sport, from showing to race-riding to eventing and showjumping.

“When you like a horse as much as I like her [Cartown Galaxy, whom he bought last year on a trip to Ireland to judge at Dublin Horse Show], you ride with so much more confidence.”

Scottish rider Morven Pringle, who is based in Moffat, was very emotional about her second place. The 24-year-old was riding Miss Contender, who was owned and ridden by Morven’s best friend Natasha Galpin, who was killed in a fall on the gallops in January.

“Natasha rode Miss Contender here last year,” said Morven, for whom it was a best international result so far. “She was brilliant in every phase – I’m so pleased with how she’s gone.”

The pair also completed on their dressage score, 31.8, to rise up from fifth after dressage in this 70-strong class.

Germany’s Josephine Schnaufer took third place on Viktor 107, while Aimee Penny was fourth on Gary Power’s PSH Deneb.

“She’s an angel – one of my favourites,” said Aimee, who works as first rider at Power Sport Horses in Wales.

Polly Stockton and Sir Alfred II, who led after dressage and cross-country, tipped one showjump and dropped to sixth place behind Hayden Hankey and his second ride, DHI Homana. Hayden was also ninth on Fools In Love.

This report has been adapted from a press release.

Land Rover Blair Castle Horse Trials: WebsiteResultsCross Country Course PreviewsTwitterFacebookInstagram