The first horse inspection at Blair Castle provided plenty of drama, with horses held, prizes won, innovative quarter marks, and a few riders involuntarily trotted up by their horses.
Local rider Emily Parker kicked off proceedings in the CCI One Star with both her rides accepted by the Grand Jury. The first horse to be sent to the holding box was The Full Monty VIII, ride of Lucy Soeder, and a flurry followed: Omard Ala (Isabella Mackenzie), Ballinteskin Hero (Joanne Kearns) and Diesel Green (Maximilian Bidinger) were sent for re-inspection in quick succession.
Shortly after this, PLS Beroko, the first of two rides for Lydia Hannon in the CCI* was also held. Gods Ground, the ride of Georgina Nicholls and Laura Varty-Lindsay’s Quick Je Jaime were sent for reinspection too.
The Full Monty VIII and Diesel Green re-presented and accepted while Isabella Mackenzie and Joanne Kearns chose to withdraw their mounts. Diesel Green, Gods Ground and Quick Je Jaime were all accepted. Lydia Hannon chose not to re-present PLS Beroko.
Only two of the two-star horses were sent to the holding box. Jack Dale’s Silver Monty was eliminated while Emily Philp’s Cupido III was accepted after a second inspection.
All twelve horses in the CCI three-star class sailed through the first horse inspection.
Several horses took the opportunity to demonstrate just how fit they are, throwing in the odd canter stride, buck and rear. Katie Barber had her hands full when the first of her two rides, Daytona Dreamer, showed just how good he is on two legs.
Early Spring was a handful for Olivia Bartlett in his two-star trot-up, while the three-star inspection saw a very excitable Balladeer Miller Man, who seemed to grow a fair few hands with the tiny Louise Harwood, and a giddy MHS Nebraska, who decided trotting sideways would be fun – rider Rosie Thomas seemingly seeing the funny side.
Some riders demonstrated their patriotic side through quarter marks and attire. Both of Padraig McCarthy’s horses branded the Irish clover, while Caroline Clark showed her county pride with the Yorkshire rose emblazoned on Touch Too Much. Christopher Stead looked incredibly smart as he presented in a traditional Scottish kilt.
There are a number of Kiwis competing at the beautiful venue. Caroline Powell has both Up Up and Away and On the Brash entered in the CIC3*, with new daddy, Tim Price, lining up aboard Kindred Spirit IV. Tim and Jonelle welcomed Otis Price to the world just a few days ago. Jonelle had optimistically entered in Blair this weekend, but Otis had other plans, arriving a bit late and throwing those plans out of the cot! Sir Mark has McClaren in the that class too as well as Obos Colombus in the CCI3*, while Caroline also has Stracathro Solitary Mistral in the CCI1*.
Sir Mark and Tim will feature in the CIC3* ERM class, chasing that lovely prize money on offer both at the event and for the series. Sir Mark is sitting third in the series with just two legs to go, and is starting Kiltubrid Rhapsody this weekend (who incidentally is for sale), while Tim is entered on the fabulous Cekatinka.
Sir Mark has a bit of catching up to do with series leader Gemma Tattersall who is sitting on 104 points. He is on 69, so needs to pull out some good results in the last two legs to get anywhere near her. Sarah Cohen (GBR) is currently second on 91 points and both Sarah and Gemma are also competing this weekend, keen to add more to their scores. Tim is on 33 points in 10th place. Andrew Nicholson is in seventh equal on 50 but is not competing this weekend. The series concludes at Blenheim.