US leader at Blenheim Horse Trials

September 12, 2009

Allison Springer

US rider Allison Springer has retained her lead after the second day of dressage yesterday at the Blenheim Palace International Horse trials.

Springer, riding Arthur, is on 36.9 penalties, and first day leader Emily Baldwin on Drivetime (38.5) stays in second.

There's a New Zealand rider in third, but not Andrew Nicholson from the first day. Neil Spratt and the attractive grey Upleadon put in a top performance and are now sitting third, with 43.5 penalties. The 11-year-old gelding by Welton Crackerjack belongs to Spratt, Annitta Engel and Sharon Robbins.

Spratt took over the ride from Tor Brewer last summer, and the pair won the CIC*** at Bramham in June this year.

"He has done a few average tests since Bramham but he was right back on form today," said Spratt, who thinks that the atmosphere at Bramham went to the horse's head. "Since then we have worked hard to get him to relax and settle," he said.

Andrew Nicholson and Mr Cruise Control are now seventh on 46.2, and the two Kiwis who performed their dressage tests on day two are next in the rankings. Joe Meyer and Sanskrit finished on 48.3 to be 14th equal, and Mark Todd and Land Vision had 50.2 to be in 22nd place.

They're followed by Caroline Powell and Boston Two Tip (51.0, 25th), Todd and Grass Valley (57.7, 41st), Spratt and Charlton Noted (63.3, 59th), and Craig Nicolai and Just Ironic (64.8, 62=).

All attention is now focused on today's cross country phase to see who will remain in contention to take the title from the 2007 winner Chris King. Last year's event was called off after the dressage because of poor weather conditions.

Of the 21 fences in the CIC*** and the 27 fences in the CCI***, half are of deformable structure in a bid to address safety across the sport. Where a safety device can be fitted to a fence it has been.

The course has been built by David Evans and his team, and it will be the first time that Eric Winter's track is jumped clockwise around the park.

The first competitor on the course will be Ruth Burnard, who leaves the start box at 10am.

• In the CIC*** division for 8 and 9yo horses, Oliver Townend leads on ODT Master Rose with 44.0, followed by Piggy French and Flying Machine with 45.2, and Andrew Nicholson with Avebury on 46.5. Nicholson is also well placed with Oplitas, in eighth place on 49.0.