Today’s CIC** sections were full of drama resulting in numerous short holds and one lengthy hold, to rebuild the trakhener when the pin broke early on in the day. The trakhener was among the most influential fences on the course along with the Owl hole and the crocodile water. Despite these holds resulting in the competition running approximately an hour late by the end of the day the course flowed very nicely, with the distances in the combinations riding well and overall the vast majority of competitors coming home clear, albeit very few inside the time.
The day was slightly marred by the number of loose dogs who escaped on course. We lost count at 4 all of whom temporarily chased horses and 2 more were loose in the tradestand area causing injuries. If dogs are to be allowed to continue to attend events, we ask owners to be responsible and keep their dog on leads and under secure hold at all times.
Section B also acted as a Junior and Young Rider trial but experience led the day with a win for Andrew Nicholson on Loughnatousa Joey, his clear XC inside the time being enough to outweigh a pole down after the top 3 after SJ all faulted XC. Ella Hitchman will have impressed the Young Rider selectors as she finished in 2nd on Rocky Rockstar with a fast clear, edging ahead of Gemma Tattersall who picked up 6 costly time faults on Santiago Bay for 3rd.
Section C winner Tim Price had taken Court Jester to a local hospice prior to the event to meet residents, the hospice is being supported by a charity lunch hosted today at the event, so for them to win was a very fitting and touching result. Tim led the section throughout finishing on his impressive dressage score of 36.1. Chris Burton moved up to 2nd on Santano II also adding nothing to their dressage score of 39.4 whilst Mark Todd dropped to 3rd on Amacuzzi after picking up 4.8 time faults to finish on 41.8.
Section D saw a win for Jesse Campbell, finishing on his dressage score of 39.5. The sight of William Fox-Pitt, who had led the dressage on Ramdam de Mons, walking back to the lorry park sans horse, is pretty unprecedented, and caused a few double takes. The horse did an absolutely filthy stop when it saw the ditch under the trakhener and poor William was summarily unshipped into the ditch! Camilla Speirs moved up to 2nd on BT Cloud Nine, and Stella Benatti to 3rd on Zaron.
In the main arena Avebury and Andrew Nicholson cruised to an immaculate clear in the SJ phase to remain at the top of the 3 star on 33.7. Having won this class the last 3 years here, they have all to play for tomorrow, and with 3.4 penalties in hand, could again prove unbeatable. Andrew also has Nereo in 3rd, with Alex Hua Tian on Don Geniro in second. Oliver Townend magicked a clear out of Armada, although frustratingly picked up 3 time penalties, for 16th place overnight but Francis Whittington had a frustrating day, an expensive pole with Easy Target dropping him from 2nd to 7th place, and 12 penalties on Hasty Imp dropping him well out of the top ten.
The 3 star competitors will run XC tomorrow, and with time usually proving influential here, it should be a fascinating competition and I don’t think anyone would put money against Andrew to pick up a 4th title. The weather though is expected to take a change for the worse overnight and rain could result in difficult and slippery conditions for riders which with scores so close could well see a big mix up on the leader board.