An extraordinary afternoon of dressage unfolded in the third leg of the Event Rider Masters at Barbury International Horse Trials.
One of the pre-competition favourites was France’s Thomas Carlile with his beautiful stallion, Upsilon. The combination lived up to expectations, producing a superb test and scoring a mark of 30.8: a new ERM record dressage mark.
“He is a very special horse with so much power and he just delivers that bit of extra spark when he has to, seducing the dressage judges and his fans. He’s such a team mate and a modern event horse, and we will need to jump clear in the show jumping and be fast tomorrow on cross-country if we are to win, but he is up to that and I will enjoy the pressure,” said a delighted Thomas after the test.
Records kept falling on the first day dressage in the third leg of the Event Rider Masters, with several personal-best performances produced from the 40-strong field. Andrew Nicholson and his 2017 Badminton hero Nereo scored 34.9 for second and a personal best. Just 4.1 marks separate Thomas and Andrew going into the second day, which starts with show jumping and finishes with cross-country. Andrew is well in the hunt for a second win in the third leg of ERM series, as well as a sixth consecutive Barbury win at CIC3* level.
“I think it might have helped us going after Upsilon’s beautiful test,” Andrew commented. “It made me and Nereo raise our game. Yes, there was pressure, but that’s why we compete at this level.”
New Zealand riders are also lying third and fifth: despite making an error of course in his dressage, Jesse Campbell, riding the former racehorse Kaapachino, delivered a lovely test scoring 36.1. “He was super. It’s always nice to perform well at your local event – we are based just over the hill from Barbury. He is a very experienced horse and good thoroughbreds tend to give you their hearts, and that’s what he’s done for me today.”
Sir Mark Todd, hoping to break his run of bad luck in Event Rider Masters competitions, is sitting in fifth place with a great score of 39.5 on Leonidas II. Pippa Funnell and Chippieh are fourth on 39.3.
Tim Price and Cekatinka are 20th on a score of 47.3. Shane Rose and CP Qualified, winners of Adelaide 4* in 2015, are 16th on 44.3 which was a great score considering the horse, clearly delighted to be out competing again, put on a great rearing display at a couple of points in the test, but went on to do some lovely work too.
In the CIC3* section B, Clifton Signature jumped a clear show jumping round for William Fox-Pitt and stays in second place going into the cross-country. Tim Price has moved up the leaderboard to third with Ringwood Sky Boy on 41.3, with Tina Cook and Billy the Red holding on to the lead on their score of 40.4.
Andrew is fifth on Swallow Springs after a clear round, but Byrnesgrove First Diamond didn’t have a good day in the jumping arena, adding 20 penalties to disappear off the top of the leader board and drop to 39th.
The two-star classes have concluded. In section C, Lucy Jackson and Willy Do had a great run to finish in fourth place. That class was won by Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp on Deniro Z. In section D, Andrew was the best-placed New Zealander on Urma BK (sixth) with Blyth Tait on Havanna Van’t Castanaehof (usually ridden by Lizzie Green) seventh. Tim Price and Xavier Faer finished 13th.
You can watch a lot of the exciting action as the three-star competition moves to the cross-country phase tomorrow, with the ERM riders show jumping first. Here’s the link.