New Zealand eventer Jonelle Price remains on course to win the CIC3* for eight and nine-year-old horses at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials for the second year running after producing a masterful clear showjumping round on Cloud Dancer ll.
Price, who is number four in the world, had to be at her best to contain the exuberant eight-year-old, a striking black gelding by San Remo, who was clearly finding the lively atmosphere at Blenheim, where large crowds were enjoying the evening sunshine, a real eye-opener.
“We had a few lives in there,” admitted Price, after Cloud Dancer ll had rattled a couple of poles, “but he’s quite Dutch [in his breeding] and needs a bit of spirit for tomorrow’s cross-country, as it’s going to come down to time.”
They can afford 10.6 time penalties on the cross-country on Sunday as Di Boddy’s showjumping track has re-arranged the order somewhat. Astier Nicolas, the dressage runner-up, has dropped to fourth with an unfortunate five penalties on the big-jumping Spes Addit Or, and the sole Chinese representative, Alex Hua Tian, has dropped from third to ninth with nine penalties on Don Geniro.
Australia’s Christopher Burton, who could have moved from fourth into second place on Monarchs Exclusive, had a catastrophic six fences down and has dropped from fourth to 43rd.
Clear rounds have elevated Irish rider Jonty Evans (Cooley’s Rorke’s Drift) and France’s Sidney Dufresne (Tresor Mail) up from sixth and seventh after dressage to second and third places respectively.
Ireland’s Geoff Curran has gone up five places to fifth with a clear on River Derg, Pippa Funnell has risen five places to sixth with a clear round on Majas Hope and 19-year-old Emily King has leapt eight places to eighth on Charlemagne.
There were 15 clears from the 68 starters, of which 67 will go forward to the cross-country phase, which starts at 11am on Sunday.
Missing from the field is Ireland’s Elizabeth Power, who was eliminated after a fall from Soladoun.