Roo Fox decided to withdraw Fleet Street on Saturday morning, so 60 combinations went forward to the cross-country. The park was bathed in sunshine and record crowds through the gate filled the tradestands for an extra half an hour this morning, as XC action didn’t start till 11.30, which I suspect made the vendors very happy!
Tina Cook and Star Witness were the first out, acing all the direct routes and making the Storm Doris logs look very easy… it’s amazing how the fences look smaller on the TV screen! She was up on the clock, and they made the upright gate and down the steep slope to the grass topped corner at the Land Rover Dairy Farm look very easy, but not everyone did as the day went on.
Tina is one of the riders I most love to watch XC, so freely forward and always in beautiful balance. She jumped the upright white gate alternative, which proved to be the main route all day, at the “Joules at the Maltings” fence and was through there very fast. Star Witness dropped to a trot in the water after the log drop at the Land Rover Trout Hatchery but Tina calmly rode him forward and made the distances work for her to the two brush arrowheads, beautiful riding. They made the Discovery Valley question look facile, in spite being a tiny bit off the angled brush ‘bonnet’, no wavering, and were foot perfect through the FEI Classics Leaf Pit, the two strides on the slightly bending line and uneven going between the triple bar arrowheads working perfectly for them.
They came home easily, 4 seconds inside the optimum time of 11 mins 14 seconds (for 6400m course) to stay on their dressage score. I suspect that course designer Captain Mark Phillipps might have been having kittens at this point in case he has made the course too easy, but Tina is deceptively brilliant! Their stellar performance pulled them up 30 places overnight, on a tough day that saw all sorts of upsets.
Oliver Townend was next out on Samuel Thomas II, again going all the direct routes but not always looking quite as effortless as Tina, Oliver had to work at it here and there but the horse responded, but their luck ran out at the Leaf Pit where they incurred 20 penalties, and they finished 8 seconds over.
Harry Dzenis and Xam produced a consummate clear just 4.8 penalties over, a very good round for them and into 11th overnight.
Simon Grieve and Drumbilla Metro had a frustrating glance off at the final corner of Rolex Combination when they just didn’t make the distance, and they took the long route at the Trout Hatchery, the horse still looking as if he has tons of jump, and finished 2.08 mins over, but that will have been a very educational round for that horse.
Andrew Nicholson on Quanza set out meaning business, and came very strongly into the Storm Doris log question, enough that the mare tried to do the two stride distance on one, jumping up out of his hands, bellying it and falling heavily on her side. Andrew got up immediately but then sat back down again, looking winded. He said later that his ribs were a bit bruised but nothing was going to stop him from taking his legendary Nereo round, and he was passed fit to compete.
Clare Abbott for Ireland on Euro Prince was three seconds up early on, meaning business.
But he was getting carried away and really fought for his head going into the log drop into the Trout Hatchery, so she very wisely went the long route throug the rest of it, as he wasn’t listening to her aids much! She did very well to get him round clear, albeit 15.2 time penalties, but good enough for 12th place overnight.
Willa Newton and Chance Remark were fantastic through Storm Doris and over the Cottesmore Leap, and very neat at the Dairy Farm. She is such a classy rider, I first noticed her on ponies and she is definitely one for the future. A run out at the last part of Discovery Valley, getting to the last brush ‘bonnet’ on too steep an angle for Chance Remark’s liking, was very unfortunate… this proved to be a very influential fence all day, as last year. They also had a glance off at the Leaf Pit, but this was an educational round for both of them on a day when some of the best riders in the world had dramas.
Harry Meade and Away Cruising took a bit of a chance at the Capability’s Cutting chase fence, but were copybook over the Dairy Farm. He went the long route at the Trout Hatchery when the horse took on the log in a bit wildly. This wouldn’t be the fastest natural galloper, and they lie in 16th place overnight after accruing 17.2 time penalties.
Sarah Bullimore and Reve de Rouet came a very unexpected cropper at the big Fairfax Saddles Table at Fence 3, disagreeing on the distance and hitting it hard, ending their hopes.
Spice Sensation almost dried right up on Caroline Powell at the boat under the Lion Bridge, maybe shocked by all the crowds… he clipped it with his back legs, and looked a bit reluctant at the Anniversary Splash drop in too, Caroline using all her experience and determination to change his mind. Obviously it was working because they did a fantastic job of the Storm Doris logs and he looked better and better as they went on, the mark of a truly brilliant xc rider. It’s easy to frighten the pants off them or let them frighten themselves, especially when the fences are this big, but to build confidence around a track of this magnitude is purely brilliant riding.
She went the slightly longer route up onto the Dairy Farm, but managed the big corner perfectly. Unfortunately the decision to try to go the direct route at the Trout Hatchery was the wrong one, and he ignored her turning aids and ran past the middle brush skinny, where La Biosthetique Sam was, shockingly, to do the same thing later. They finished 1.26 over but Spice Sensation will have learned a lot from that round.
Tim Price and Xavier Faer were very smooth. Beautiful through the Maltings, angling the big white gate very bravely and being as economical as possible to the huge white parallels, and they were super neat and accurate through the Trout Hatchery. Their wires finally got crossed at the Leaf Pit, when Tim looked as if he was in a bit too much of a hurry, angled the house drop, made it over the first skinny but the horse just didn’t lock on to the third part and ran past it.
Angus Smales and MJI Mount Echo were going really well until pecking hard on landing over the middle element at the Rolex Combination, at which point Angus thought fast and rerouted to the alternative last element. They took the long route in the middle and last parts of the Trout Hatchery too.
The horse absolutely ballooned the brush bonnet parallel into Discovery Valley, the first really to do so, giving Angus hardly any chance to recover in time to turn for the last part, incurring an annoying 20 penalties when they just couldn’t get there. He then ran right past the last part of the Leaf Pit too, more frustration.
Tom Crisp and Coolys Luxury were very neat, made the Trout Hatchery look very jumpable on the direct route, and finished clear with 16.8 time.
Pascal Leroy and Minos de Petra initially looked smooth and competent, and totally unhurried through The Maltings. But they had a run out at the middle element of the Trout Hatchery, then another run out, and ended up being Eliminated.
Tom McEwen rode the round of his life on Toledo de Kerser. They were very good at the Dairy Farm corner, a bit fast and strong through the Trout Hatchery but Toledo locked on like a guided missile and didn’t deviate. They were a bit wild coming through the Leaf Pit too but Toledo was phenomenal, they finished only 4 seconds over and into the lead at the time, and eventually 7th overnight.
Andrew Hoy was looking back to his brilliant best with The Blue Frontier, they were great through the Lakeside Corners on the right hand route. He came strongly into the Storm Doris logs but the horse clearly understood the question and was straight and neat. Unfortunately it went all wrong at the Rolex Combination when he went the longer way at the middle element and didn’t get to the corner on a distance that the horse liked. But they were great at the Trout Hatchery, skipping through the direct route, vintage Hoy Boy. Just when it was looking super again, the horse ran out at the last part of the Leaf Pit, the undulating ground and the bending line catching him out, but they completed, and The Blue Frontier will be better for it.
Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rogues – the horse was fighting a bit for his head early on, but helped him out a bit at the Dairy Farm corner when their line wasn’t perfect, and earned a big pat as they galloped away from it. They put a clever little dog leg in to the final part of the Rolex Combination and jumped it beautifully. Paul chose to take the alternative at the middle and last elements of the Trout Hatchery, and it worked very well. Bonza King of Rogues ballooned the first part of the Discovery Valley combination and Paul had no hope of turning him to the direct route, and wisely went long. They completed clear but racked up 29.6 time.
Ludwig Svennerstal and Balham Mist were another combination to have a run out at the direct route skinny at the Trout Hatchery, and they completed but with an eventual 40 penalties (adding another run out at a Leaf Pit skinny) and plenty of time, but it was another educational round.
Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam were looking sublime apart from giving his legions of fans slight heart failure at the Anniversary Splash log drop, but MJ didn’t move. They put in a tiny dog leg to the big brush corner at the Lakeside Corners, super neat.
Ian Stark on commentary said in appreciation at his riding of the Storm Doris logs, “No wonder he wins everything, this boy!” says it all! Sam was clever and adjustable at the Rolex Combination. It was all looking like a standard Walk In The Park for this phenomenal combination, until… at the Trout Hatchery Michael took a very economical line in over the log, Sam landed on the left lead in the slightly deep water, and the unthinkable happened, Sam just didn’t seem to understand that he was supposed to be turning to the right, just didn’t see the brush arrowhead at all and was taken by surprise, incurring 20 penalties. Michael jumped the long route and then retired, this horse obviously has absolutely nothing to prove.
When interviewed afterwards, Michael took the full blame, saying he “made a mistake”, didn’t react fast enough, and the faults were his fault. He didn’t discount the possibility of another run this year for La Biosthetique Sam, or next year, raising hopes of another visit to Badminton, perhaps. It all depends how Sam feels.
Imogen Gloag and Brendonhill Doublet had a great round, very accurate and tidy, beautiful riding, not fast but a lovely clear.
Warren Lamperd and Silvia banked the grass-topped corner at the Dairy Farm. Silvia looking a little tired later on but still jumping well, and finished clear but not fast.
Georgie Spence and Wii Limbo were going brilliantly early on and jumped the Storm Doris logs (now in heavy shadow from the trees) absolutely beautifully. But the distance to the third part of the Rolex Combination didn’t work for them, and they incurred a run out at the final part, and finished 1.08 over, but it was a good round with just that one blip.
Richard Jones and Alfies Clover were another to do a slow but good clear. The “lorry part accident” at Bramham that was mentioned by the commentators apparently didn’t involve a horse at all (which would be the natural assumption!) he fell down the lorry steps and left his wedding ring and a finger on them… shudder!
Libby Seed and What A Catch II were getting a bit hairy at the Cottesmore Leap, the horse frightened itself a bit but kept going and she took a very defensive seat. Unfortunately their round ended in a heavy fall after they ballooned the brush parallel at Discovery Valley.
Hannah Sue Burnett and Under Suspection ran past the brush corner at the Lakeside Corners, the horse just not locking on at all. They were slightly sticky at the Storm Doris Logs, barely making the huge spread corner and unfortunately they came unstuck at the big corner at the Dairy Farm, getting there on a very long spot and the horse trying to go for a long one and then changing his mind and glancing off, giving her a heavy fall.
Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul set out, Spike looking very keen as usual. They were making the combinations look easy, but he was getting a bit wild at the Trout Hatchery so she decided very early to go the long route and even then possibly struggled to turn to the third part. But they were copybook at Discovery Valley, and came home clear and inside the time, the second of the day to do so (after pathfinder Kristina Cook, it took a long while to get another one!) and into the lead.
Interviewed afterwards she said she’s been suffering from a horrendous cold and a chest infection, and wasn’t able to help him, she was running out of breath and not feeling strong enough in her body.
For America, Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 looked quick and clever early on, but had a very unlucky tip off of the rider at the long route at Storm Doris when clipping the skinny with a knee.
America again, Mackenna Shea and Landioso were great at the Rolex Combination and at the Maltings, beautifully ridden, but their luck ran out at the Discovery Valley last element, when she just didn’t make the turn.
USA again, Savannah Fulton and Captain Jack were fantastic at the direct route at the Anniversary Splash and the Lakeside Corners, and completed a good clear but slow, very educational.
Emma Hyslop-Webb and Pennlands Douglas took the long route onto the Dairy Farm mound, where she nearly got beheaded under the trees, but they successfully jumped the direct route corner out. Unfortunately she slid off after the log drop into the Trout Hatchery when his big jump proved totally unseating, very tough luck.
Louise Harwood and Mr Potts were getting low and long at the brushes after the Cottesmore Leap, Louise in her trademark extremely defensive seat. They took the slightly longer route through the last 2 parts of the Trout Hatchery, very neatly done, and came home clear, but just over a minute over the optimum time.
Paul Sims and Glengarnock were copybook at Storm Doris logs, and at the Dairy Farm. Lovely and calmly ridden through the Maltings, all was going so well, but then a very unfortunate run out at the skinny last part of the Leaf Pit put paid to their chances.
Emma Forsyth and Soltair Justice went beautifully through Storm Doris, very neatly corrected at the Rolex Combination, lovely riding. Another clear and very educational round but not troubling the leaders.
Zara Tindall and High Kingdom were so economical and determined, all was looking fantastic for their usual fast competent clear until the last part of the Trout Hatchery when the take off went wrong, he skewed violently in the air and poor Zara had no chance and was unshipped into the drink. That’s going to be all over the tabloids tomorrow, a complete nightmare and totally undeserved!
Burghley Débutante Sophie Brown and Wil – he looked a bit nuts for a while and she struggled for control, and did very well to keep going. They took the long route into the Leaf Pit and stood off the second part but he stayed straight and jumped out very tidily. They finished with a big smile on her face and very pricked ears from him, a good job done.
Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie were great over the Cottesmore Leap, Boyd not hanging about, and fantastic through the Rolex Combination, made the distances perfectly. They finished with only 2 time penalties, into the top 10.
Izzy Taylor and Trevidden looked fantastic, she gave this relatively inexperienced British bred horse her trademark super ride. They went long at the Trout Hatchery after the log in, stumbled a bit after the last part but she sat very tight and reacted instantly. He wasn’t the first to balloon the brush parallel at Discovery Valley but she sat perfectly and controlled the turn to the angled brush bonnet in copybook fashion. A perfectly judged round and home clear well inside the time.
Lauren Kieffer and Veronica set off well but didn’t look as if they were going particularly fast. They were beautiful through the Rolex Combination, went long through the last 2 parts of the Trout Hatchery, and she was forced to go long at Discovery Valley after ballooning the first part, putting her further behind the clock, and they finished clear but frustratingly 1.08 over the time.
Louisa Milne Home and her wonderful King Eider – “Duck”, he may be one paced, but he has a fantastic jump and stays straight and true. They made the direct route of Discovery Valley look very easy, when he went without hesitation off a long one at the steeply angled brush. 1 min 46 secs over but a lovely clear round and he finished with pricked ears looking as if he dearly wanted to go around again.
Nana Dalton and Elite Syncopation were looking good but took the long route out of the Rolex Combination after meeting the first two on a bit too forward a stride. This was the first of their problems, it just wasn’t their day and they retired.
Alan Nolan and Bronze Flight were very good through the Trout Hatchery, going the long route after the log drop in. The direct route was definitely less popular at that point, word must have gotten back to the stables that Michi and Sam had a problem there! They got around clear and didn’t look too worried about the time penalties.
Lynn Symansky and Donner were kicking on and looking determined, and went direct at the Trout Hatchery, very brave and straight, and it worked perfectly for them. They went beautifully through the Leaf Pit, and finished only 9 seconds over to go into 3rd place at that point, and 8th overnight.
Gubby Leech and Xavier looked great over the Cottesmore Leap but a bit scrappy at the Keeper’s Brush parallels after it, and were looking good until he got to the third part of the Leaf Pit, when in his determination not to run out right, as many had, he slapped the horse, and it ran left instead.
Imogen Murray and Ivar Gooden – sporting a Wilberry Wonderpony going along for the ride, were fantastic through Storm Doris, and made it look easy. They finished only 27 seconds over, a great result today.
Piggy French and Vanir Kamira set out meaning business, Piggy looking as good as she ever has. Vanir Kamira looked slightly confused for a moment coming to the Dairy Farm corner but responded instantly and stayed clear. They took the short route at the Trout Hatchery, got to the last bit and nearly ran out right but Piggy held her in with her right leg and the mare was generous. They came home clear and only 8 seconds over, a great result for her, 5th overnight.
Sarah Ennis and BLM Diamond Delux – he was very spooky to begin with and she had to go to the whip, but she kept him going forward and convinced him to be straight, and he improved all the way around, great xc riding, for an educational clear.
Harry Dzenis and Dromgurrihy Blue were another pair to have a good round and go clear (no mean feat today) but not fast.
Simon Grieve and Douglas had a run out at Storm Doris, and from then on he nursed him home, an educational round and very mature riding.
Andrew Nicholson and Nereo set out well, this horse knows his job and looked totally ‘on it’. He was super clever at the upright gate at the Dairy Farm, popping in a pony stride so neatly, and galloped through the Rolex Combination, making it look like a grid at home. A pair of legends having a nice play around this course. Nereo was straight as a die at the Trout Hatchery, popping the middle part perfectly but then ending up very long at the last skinny triple brush and rather slithering over it, but Mr Stickability of course stayed in perfect balance and they finished clear, 19 seconds over and into 4th place, Andrew possibly not quite feeling himself after such a heavy winding fall earlier in the day, I suspect.
Kirsty Short and Cossan Lad had a frustrating run out at the Trout Hatchery and then ran past the first skinny at the Leaf Pit, at which point she put her hand up.
Mark Todd and Leonidas set out well, although he didn’t get a great shot at the Cottesmore Leap, very unusually for him. He opted for the long route out of the Trout Hatchery, staying safe, and was on time, but all his efforts were in vain when he got to Discovery Valley, and Leonidas II sort of ballooned the brush parallel in an inverted way and crumpled up on landing, giving Toddy no hope at all of staying in the place, a gutting end to the day for him after leading the dressage.
Matthew Heath and The Lion kept up a good gallop, going long at the Trout Hatchery. All was going well until he jumped the Discovery Valley parallel very neatly, fooling Matthew into taking a very shallow line to the angled brush at which point they had a sudden drive by and Matthew ended up on the floor.
Caroline Powell and Onwards and Upwards did a great clear, but 40 secs over time.
Olivia Craddock and Billy Liffy, having done such a lovely dressage for 10th place, jumped the first 3 fences well and then she didn’t get a good shot and Billy Liffy got a bit of a surprise at the Lion Bridge house and stopped, then stopped again, at which point she very wisely retired, not their day.
Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy were very classy, fantastic at Discovery Valley, where he turned with outside aids and made it look easy. They were only 13 seconds over and into 3rd place.
Jamie Atkinson, back in the big time after a long time away, and Celtic Fortune had a frustrating run out at Leaf Pit, and were not fast, but it was a great experience for them.
American rider Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby were very neat at Storm Doris although they didn’t quite get to the perfect spot, but had a fall at the Leaf Pit and there was a 15 minute hold on course while he was extricated from the fence, but both are fine.
Kristina Cook and Calvino II set out well, he was looking greener than Star Witness and added a stride in the brush double at the Keeper’s Brushes when she opted for the left hand route. She was very brave to go direct at the Trout Hatchery, and he responded brilliantly to her determined riding. But they were held for a long time at the fence before Discovery Valley,the Irish Horse Gateway, then had a run out at Discovery Valley, this young horse seeming to become very unfocussed by the wait, frustrating for her but he’s definitely one for the future.
Dee Hankey and Chequers Playboy, finished 1 min 44 over but with a great clear round, she looked and sounded absolutely delighted to have accomplished that, whooping with joy as they crossed the finish line.
The last on course, Oliver Townend and the relatively inexperienced Ballaghmor Class, who is contesting his first four star here, lived slightly dangerously at the Rolex Combination but stayed clear, and Oliver really worked at Discovery Valley, making it happen, looking in no danger of a run out. Ditto at the Leaf Pit, it was great reactive riding, and this horse has such talent. They finished with 1 second over and went into the lead, a phenomenal achievement and great for the crowds to see as the last one of the day.
The overnight leaderboard:
There were 29 clears, almost half, and just three clears inside the time, a pretty tough year when those at the very top had upsets.
Good Luck to all remaining competitors tomorrow!
All photos by kind permission of Katie Neat Photography for e-Venting.