Eventing action heats up at Barbury

Three-star dressage day is over, with the NZ riders a little off the pace

Thomas Carlile and Upsilon are leading the dressage in the Event Riders Masters (Image: Benjamin Clark Photography)

France’s Thomas Carlile has put himself in the perfect position to pull off a second consecutive victory in the £50,000 Event Riders Masters CIC3* class at St James’s Place Barbury Horse Trials in Wiltshire.

Riding the superbly impressive grey stallion Upsilon, Tom scored 24.9 in the dressage phase on a blazing hot day at Barbury to share the lead with the USA’s Elizabeth Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night, who also scored 24.9.

Thomas was performing his dressage just as the England football team were securing their semi-final place and the rider admitted to being startled by a great cheer from the hospitality tent just as he was performing an extended canter: “I thought ‘wow – that’s nice of the audience’!”

But the jumping phases will be exciting – world number one Oliver Townend is lurking in third place just a fraction behind with a mark of 25.3 on Cilnabraddon Evo.

Fellow Brit Nicola Wilson is fourth on One Two Many with 26.4, and Nicola also holds the lead in the second CIC3* section after dressage with Bulana.

Both CIC3* classes do their showjumping and then the final cross-country phase on Sunday (overnight, NZ time).

The best placed Kiwi rider in the ERM class is Tim Price, ninth on Ascona M, while Blyth Tait did a great test on Dassett Courage to sit 12th, with Sir Mark Todd behind him on NZB Campino in 13th.

Tim Price and Ascona M (Image: Libby Law)
Blyth Tait and Dassett Courage (Image: Libby Law)
Sir Mark Todd and NZB Campino (Image: Libby Law)

Andrew Nicholson is in 25th equal place on Swallow Springs, Virginia Thompson 33rd equal on Star Nouveau, and Jonelle Price proved you can’t win them all, sitting 36th (second last in the class) on Kindred Spirit IV.

Virginia Thompson and Star Nouveau (Image: Libby Law)

In the other CIC3* class, Jesse Campbell is the best-placed Kiwi, fifth on Cleveland on 27.9pen, with Andrew not far behind him, seventh on Yacabo BK with 28.1.

Caroline Powell is 13th on Up Up and Away and 24th on On the Brash, and Blyth is sitting in 52nd place of the 72 starters on Leo Distinction.

The main action today was on the CIC2* classses, where Christopher Burton took out one of the sections on Bahira M, while British riders Adam Harvey and Hannah Bate took out the other two.

Sir Mark Todd and McClaren during the CIC2* Section C Cross Country (Image: Libby Law)
Jonelle Price and Grappa Nera during the CIC2* Section C Cross Country (Image: Libby Law)
Andrew Nicholson and Zacarias during the CIC2* Section C Cross Country (Image: Libby Law)
Jesse Campbell and Diachello II during the CIC2* Section D Cross Country (Image: Libby Law)

Christopher had earlier won two of the Novice sections; one with the outstanding score of 14.5, on Lawtown Girl, and the other with 20.8 on Caliber Royale.

It might not have been New Zealands’ day in the dressage arena, but our riders smashed the National Hunt jockeys’ team in the JCB Champions’ Challenge, in aid of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund.

Jonelle captained the eventers’ team, which was made up of Sir Mark, Tim Price and Lissa Green, for the relay race over fences.

Jonelle waiting for Sir Mark to hand her the baton, with Richard Johnson jumping in the background (Image: William Carey Photography)

The jockeys’ team, headed by three-times champion National Hunt jockey Richard Johnson, his year also comprised Tom Scudamore, Sam Twiston-Davies and Wayne Hutchinson, had won for the past two years and their pre-match confidence indicated they thought they had it nailed again this year. While the eventers, captained by 2018 Badminton Horse Trials winner and New Zealand Olympian Jonelle Price, carefully selected their mounts from the horses contesting the final of the inter-hunt relay and planned their tactics, the jocks were spotted enjoying a pint at the bar.

Richard was pitted against Sir Mark, who took a crafty tight line through the water complex and from then on the jockeys were always a stride behind.

“That bodes well for the World Equestrian Games!” said Sir Mark who, along with Jonelle and Tim, is expected to be part of the New Zealand team for the forthcoming world championships in September.

Team work makes for dream work; a high five for Tim and Jonelle (Image: Libby Law)