Xanthus III, one of Blyth Tait’s top eventing horses has just arrived in New Zealand and is here to stay, taking a step back from top-level competition to enjoy some new challenges with Fiona Fraser.
Blyth, who is also here for the season, confirms that ‘Eric’ will compete in show jumping (his forte) and dressage with Fiona. “And I might even compete him here next summer,” he adds.
“Although he had some good performances, showing he was capable, in the end he wasn’t consistent enough. His owner, Jane Lovell-Smith, agreed to send him here.”
Eric came out of quarantine over the weekend and showed immediate approval of the lush local grass, as you can see in Blyth’s Instagram post.
Blyth and Eric have enjoyed plenty of good times in the past four years. Their first FEI outing was the CIC1* at Brightling Park in July 2012, where they finished second. Tim Price’s Bango also started in that class, finishing 19th. Liz Halliday-Sharp was the winner on the lovely grey HHS Cooley who tragically died as a result of a cross-country fall in July this year, sparking debate about safe course-designing.
After that great beginning at Brightling, Eric worked his way up the grades, and although there were a few hiccups along the way, he proved himself to be a exceptionally consistent show jumper. Two notable early results were his sixth in the CCI3* at Blair Castle in 2013 and third in the CIC3* at Tattersalls in 2014. Blyth then stepped him up to four-star, competing at Luhmühlen in 2015. They finished 23rd after a run-out on cross-country and a clear show jumping round with some time faults.
The pair were an impressive second at the CCIO3* at Boekelo 2015, a special Olympic qualifier, although Blyth wasn’t part of the team which clinched that last-minute spot for New Zealand (these were Jonelle Price, Jesse Campbell, Tim Price and Daniel Jocelyn.)
Eric had another run-out and time faults across country at 2016 Rolex Kentucky CCI4*, but produced a brilliant clear round over a very testing show jumping course to finish in 44th place. There were only four clears, including Blyth’s, in that phase.
Their last few events in Europe saw them finish sixth in the CIC3* at Hopetoun, 10th in the CIC3* at Blenheim, and their final run was in the CCI03*at Boekelo where they were 27th. Eric had a run-out on cross-country there too, but produced yet another clear effort over the coloured poles. He retired on a show jumping high, having taken his last rail in FEI events back in March 2015 and jumping clear in fifteen further competitions.
Despite his excellent show jumping record, the New Zealand selectors have never (apparently) found Eric to their liking, and preferred Bear Necessity when they named Blyth as non-travelling reserve for Rio.
Xanthus III is a Belgian warmblood, by Quidam de Revel out of My Lady van het Pannenhof (by Pachat II). He is 14 years old.
His new rider, Fiona, was Blyth’s head groom for many years before qualifying as a police officer in 2005. She is a co-owner of Leo Distinction, another of his UK team.
As well as Leo and Bear Necessity (who he will continue to campaign at four-star level and who is definitely a prospect for the World Equestrian Games in 2018), Blyth has a good group at three-star level, including Carin, Darius and Dasset Courage.
We wish Eric, Blyth and Fiona a very happy Christmas. Fiona, have fun with your new pony!