Brits in top three spots at Blenheim Horse Trials

September 13, 2009

Neil Spratt and Charlton Noted have a stop ...

... at the second part of a combination ...

... but sail over the last. The combination was later disqualified. © Jan Milne

British riders now hold the top three places of the CCI*** Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials going into today's final showjumping phase.

Lucy Wiegersma stormed into the lead with Granntevka Prince after putting in a fast clear across the country. The nine-year-old bay gelding is a second generation homebred for his owner Geraldine Mills, and won the British Eventing 6-year-old championship in 2006.

Emily Baldwin remains in second place on Drivetime after adding eight time penalties to her sub-40 dressage score.

In third is Daisy Dick and Springalong, whose clear cross-country round improved them from 21st place. The combination is sitting on its dressage score of 50.0.

It remains tight at the top of the leaderboard - there are just 4.6 penalties separating the top three combinations, with only 1.1 penalties between Wiegersma and Baldwin at the top.

Kiwi rider Andrew Nicholson is in fourth with Mr Cruise Control, adding only 4 time penalties to his dressage score, to end the day on 50.2. Mark Todd and Land Vision improved from 22nd place to 11th, on 56.6. Joe Meyer and Sanskrit also added a few time penalties to end in 16th place on 59.9.

A brilliant fast clear from Just Ironic has moved Craig Nicolai up the rankings, from 62nd to 20th, on 64.8. Caroline Powell and Boston Two Tip faulted twice on the cross-country, and added a raft of time faults, to drop down from 25th to 5th, on 119.4.

Neil Spratt's second ride, Upleadon, who was in third place after the dressage, was eliminated on the cross-country, and Todd retired his second horse, Grass Valley.

US rider Allison Springer, the overnight leader, was unlucky to incur 20 penalties at the second part of the penultimate fence, the Joules Blackberry Bushes, after an otherwise lovely round on Arthur. This fence claimed its fair share of run outs as the last combination on the course.

Course designer Eric Winter was delighted with how the course rode. "Problems have been sporadic. The course has caused people to fault through forcing people to take direct routes, but it has been a safe and successful cross country day which is ultimately what we are aiming for in this sport.

"The footing was fantastic," he said. "Knowing that the weather was going to be on our side this year really helped in the ground preparation. We started watering the course on Monday and spiked it on Friday, following it round with the bowser."

• Record crowds remained in the sunshine at Blenheim to watch Piggy French move into the lead after the show jumping phase of the eight and nine-year-old CIC*** class.

French added just one time penalty to an otherwise foot perfect round on the eight-year-old Flying Machine to remain 0.3 penalties ahead of Andrew Nicholson and Avebury. Nicholson's second mount, Oplitas, is currentl 15th.

Dressage leader Oliver Townend had one pole down and two time faults on ODT Master Rose which dropped him to sixth place at this stage.

The final cross-country phase takes place today.