Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen have burst into the lead after the second and final day of dressage in the principal CCI3* class at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.
Montgomery scored an impressive 33.8 on the 12-year-old Limerick gelding on Friday.
“He’s put these scores in before and this is what we were aiming for, but you never know on the day,” Montgomery said. “The atmosphere seems to help him.”
It is the third time Clark and Loughan Glen have competed at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, and they were third in 2013.
“Each time he has been here the cross-country course has been in this direction, so we know he likes it. I think the double of corners [the Kent & Masters Brush Corners, fence 12ab] will be influential,” Montgomery said.
Germany’s Sandra Auffarth, the current world champion, is in second with 37.2 riding Ispo, an 11-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Sybille Winter and the DOKR.
British riders fill the next two places, with Dani Evans third on Raphael II with 40.2, and Franky Reid-Warrilow fourth on Dolley Whisper on 40.6. Next in the rankings is Australia’s Andrew Hoy and Cheeky Calimbo, who scored 40.7.
British rider is Pippa Funnell moved into ninth place with Billy The Biz. Funnell is a four-time winner at Blenheim.
Billy The Biz, a 10-year-old by Cevin Z, is owned by Carol Toliver, who also owns Mirage D’Elle, in 29th place in the same class.
“He’s one who showjumped through his younger career. He’s come through the [eventing] grades pretty quickly as he has the mileage with the jumping but I’ve had a couple of little blips where has been eager and over-jumped into water and we’ve had a dunking, so I’m going to have to sit back and tight tomorrow,” she said.
Cross-country starts at 9am on Saturday morning.
Last year’s winner of the CIC3* for eight-and-nine-year-old horses, New Zealand’s Jonelle Price, leads the class again. This year she is riding The Marley and Me Syndicate’s Cloud Dancer II.
“He’s smart – he moves very well, especially for an event horse, so I feel a bit of a responsibility to produce something a bit special,” Price said of the eight-year-old by San Remo.
“He’s no Ferrari across country but he gives it his best – a few seconds in hand would be handy!”
France’s Astier Nicolas became the second rider to score in the 30s when pulling off a test of 39.4 with Helen and Paul Fearn’s Spes Addit Or. They are in second place, just ahead of China’s Alex Hua Tian and Don Geniro with 40.6, followed by Australia’s Chris Burton in fourth with Monarch’s Esclusive (41.9).
New Zealand’s Caroline Powell is fifth with Up Up and Away, on 43.0.
Price said Cloud Dancer II was quite different to any other horse she rides. “I have never had one like this. My background is very much New Zealand thoroughbreds, so it has been very much take each step as it comes with this horse.”
She bought him as a just-started four-year-old with Jacky Green.
“He is black and paints a lovely picture, but he is very, very different to Faerie Dianimo. He is only eight this guy and he’s a bit on the green side. He doesn’t have a huge amount of thoroughbred blood and it is a bit of a test to see how fast he can go round this track … I was hoping to have a few seconds up my sleeve.”
However, so far he had answered every question. “He might look like a dressage horse, but he thinks he is an eventer for some reason and wants to do the job.”