The USA’s Clark Montgomery led from start to finish to take out the CCI3* at the 25th anniversary of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials at the weekend.
Two immaculate jumping performances meant he added nothing to his leading dressage score of 33.8 on Holly and William Becker’s Loughan Glen, the horse he finished third on two years ago.
The British based rider will be hoping that it will be enough to impress the selectors for the US eventing team for next year’s Rio Olympics.
“I couldn’t have done a better job to get selected, but you never know,” Montgomery said. “It’s the biggest win of my career and it feels fantastic.”
Montgomery, whose wife Jessica was acting as his groom, has been based this year with Captain Mark Phillips at Aston Farm in Gloucestershire. “The reason I’m here [in Britain] is that it’s so much more competitive.”
Christopher Burton’s purple patch of form continued with second place, also on a clean sheet, with Nobilis 18, a horse he hopes to add to his string of possibilities for the Australian team at the Olympics.
Kitty King, also, is enjoying the season of her life. Last weekend she was the best of the silver medal British team at the Europeans; here, she finished third and best Briton on her Tattersalls CCI3* winner, Jacqueline Owen, Diana Bown and Samantha Wilson’s Ceylor LAN.
“It’s been a dream season,” said King, who lives near Chippenham, Wiltshire. “This was a big test for this horse because he’s not full thoroughbred and is only eight, but he galloped all the way to the end and he show jumped beautifully.”
It’s perhaps fortunate that Clark Montgomery has only a short journey home – he won fistfuls of prizes in kind, including from Equilibrium, John Sankey Furniture, Lansdown Country, the Oxford Times and Stormtech.
In a good day for the US squad, Lauren Kieffer, sixth on Veronica, took home the Ariat prizes for best first-timer at Blenheim. Dani Evans, ninth on the upstanding Raphael ll, won £500 and a Thermatex rug from the Horse Trials Support Group as best British rider aged 25 and under.
Earlier, the crowd was treated to stirring parades by Britain’s medal-winning senior, Young Rider, Junior, Pony and CIC2* teams plus one very special visitor: to a standing ovation, Zara Phillips cantered around the arena on Toytown, the wonderful old horse with whom she won the European title at Blenheim 10 years ago.
Seventy-eight horses and riders tackled the showjumping, after two horses – Beanie Sturgis’s Lebowski, 16th after cross-country, and Niklas Bschorer’s Win And Love, 70th – failed the final horse inspection for the CCI3* class.
There were seven withdrawals overnight. The highest placed combination not to present on Sunday morning were Andrew Hoy and Cheeky Calimbo, fifth after dressage. Louisa Lockwood withdrew Avocado, 38th after cross-country. The others were Tom Grant and Cloncolman Lad, 58th, Harry Dzenis and Above Board, 60th, Sophie Beaty and Pink Gin, 65th, Ibby Macpherson and Ballingowan Diamond, 78th, and Richard Skelt and Man Hunt, 80th.