Germany’s Bettina Hoy is a clear showjumping round away from being crowned CCI three-star champion at the Blenheim International Horse Trials in Oxfordshire.
Hoy, the leader after dressage on Seigneur Medicott, collected just 8.4 cross-country time faults to hold a clear lead and a showjumping fence in hand over second-placed American Hannah Sue Burnett, riding Harbour Pilot.
Hoy is on a score of 41.3 penalties, with Burnett on 46.9, while Lydia Hannon and My Royal Touch are the leading British challengers in third, just ahead of Oliver Townend and Dunbeau in fourth and Andrew Nicholson (Teseo) fifth. Townend and Nicholson had just two and 0.4 time faults, respectively.
“He was really fantastic,” Hoy said. “He gave me a wonderful ride. He’s just a little bit green still and would like to take a second to look at each fence, but you just can’t — you have to keep going.
“He made it happen out there. What a good boy! I went as fast as I could, but with a young horse like him, you do have to allow for an extra stride at each jump. He proved what potential he has.
“In terms of his showjumping, he has not had a clear round yet at this level. He is not a careless horse, but he can just get a bit affected by the atmosphere. I think he is a potential superstar.”
Hannon, meanwhile, lies third after collecting just 3.2 time faults, which proved the day’s third-fastest time. “She (My Royal Touch) is a superstar,” Hannon said. “She was a really good girl. We did a good dressage test for her, and I didn’t want to waste it and knew I had to post a good time on the cross-country.”
And reflecting on his ride, Townend said: “I am very pleased with Dunbeau. He has come a long way.
“He is not the fastest thing on four legs, but he kept cantering for me. He is out of a thoroughbred mare, so he has got everything.
“The cross-country course was right up there as a test. If you went out and gave it a good shot, and you were on a good one, then you would jump clear.”
The final leg of this season’s inaugural Event Riders Masters series began with dressage at Blenheim on Saturday, and it was double Rio Olympics medallist Astier Nicolas who took charge, with a score of 41.3 penalties on Molakai.
Frenchman Nicolas, who won team gold and individual silver in Rio, leads by more than six penalties from Jonelle Price (Cloud Dancer II) and Thomas Carlile (Upsilon), who are tied second. Series leader Paul Tapner (Yogi Bear VIII) is ninth going into Sunday’s finale, with Townend and Cilnabradden Evo – winners of the Masters series rounds at Gatcombe and Blair – 10th.
Bettina Hoy and Seigneur Medicott at Blenheim, by Adam Fanthorpe/Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials