Thousands of spectators are due to arrive at Tattersalls Horse Trials early on Saturday morning for the start of the thrilling cross country phase, which continues throughout the day, and will see top British rider Pippa Funnell attempt to defend her lead in the three-star section of the event.
Ireland’s biggest equestrian event after the Dublin Horse Show, Tattersalls, which is run in association with Horse Sport Ireland, boasts a daunting cross country course designed by Olympic silver medallist Ian Stark that will test both riders and horses to the limit of their stamina and resourcefulness.
Rolex Grand Slam title holder Funnell currently holds both first and second places at the Co.Meath venue, but faces strong Irish and international challenges from the 32-strong field in her class.
During the dressage phase the Sussex-born competitor rode the nine year-old Billy Beware into first place on a score of 40.4, and also holds second place with the Irish Sport Horse Billy Landretti, on 46.5.
Close behind her in equal third place are Australia’s Bill Levett and Improvise on 48.5, with Italy’s Giovanni Ugolotti and Stilo Kontika on the same score.
Irish presence in the current top ten is held by Aidan Keogh and Master Tredstep in equal seventh with 51.7, and Sarah Ennis on BLM Diamond Delux in ninth place on a score of 53.1. Both mounts are also Irish Sport Horses. A total of 13 Irish riders will compete in the three-star class.
The event finishes on Sunday with the show jumping phase, where the eventual winner will be decided.