American Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen displayed their dressage class to take an overnight lead in the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.
Germany’s reigning world champion, Sandra Auffarth, fresh from winning team-gold and individual silver at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships in Scotland last weekend, saw her advantage after Thursday’s dressage action wiped out.
Auffarth and Ispo had posted an outstanding score of 37.2 penalties, but Montgomery stormed ahead on 33.8.
“He has put these scores in before, and this is what we were aiming for, but you never know on the day,” Montgomery said. “The atmosphere seems to help him.”
Loughan Glen was third at Blenheim Horse Trials in 2013, and Montgomery added: “Each time he has been here the cross-country course has been in the direction it is this time, so we know he likes it. I think the double of corners (fence 12ab) will be influential.”
Pippa Funnell, meanwhile, moved into third spot with Billy The Biz on 39.3, just five days after helping Britain claim European team gold at Blair Castle alongside Kitty King, Nicola Wilson and William Fox-Pitt.
“He’s one who showjumped through his younger career,” Funnell said.
“He’s come through the (eventing) grades pretty quickly as he has the mileage with the jumping, but I’ve had a couple of little blips where has been eager and over-jumped into water and we’ve had a dunking, so I am going to have to sit back and tight tomorrow.”
Last year’s winner of the CIC three-star for eight-and-nine-year-old horses, New Zealand’s Jonelle Price, leads that class again after dressage. This time around, she is riding The Marley and Me Syndicate’s Cloud Dancer II.
“He’s smart,” Price said. “He moves very well, especially for an event horse, so I feel a bit of a responsibility to produce something a bit special.
“He’s no Ferrari across country, but he gives it his best. A few seconds in hand would be handy!”
France’s Nicolas Astier lies second aboard Spes Addit Or, more than six penalties behind Price’s score of 33.2, while China’s Alex Hua Tian is third with Don Geniro.