Former world champion Dermott Lennon headlined the opening day of the Ashford Farm CSI**** Bolesworth International in Cheshire by dominating the feature four-star class on Loughview Lou-Lou.
Irish ace Lennon won the 1.50metre four-star speed class, sponsored by AGA, to continue a successful season that saw the combination crowned grand prix champions at Royal Windsor last month.
PICTURE: Laura Renwick and Beluga in action at Bolesworth on Thursday
Their time of 60.13 seconds proved too much for the rest of a 55-strong field as world number one Scott Brash’s Bolesworth debut ended in frustration when he was eliminated at fence three aboard Hello Forever after the horse refused.
Lennon, though, had no such trouble, claiming victory and £7, 260 by a clear margin from British challenger Nicole Pavitt and Victor Blue, while American Laura Kraut was third aboard Nouvelle and Laura Renwick fourth on Heliodor Hybris.
“The course jumped well,” said Lennon, who won the world title in 2002. “There was a lot of turning, but it was a fair course and the ground was really good to help you make the turns. Lou-Lou is actually easier to ride when she is going fast, and she has a huge stride. It suited us today.”
Renwick, meanwhile, ensured a flying start for Great Britain on day one in Cheshire by winning the opening four-star class.
The Essex-based Nations Cup star landed a thrilling 1.30metre two-phase competition, sponsored by Aggreko, with the 14-year-old mare Beluga.
Beluga, a speed course specialist and regular winner on the British and European circuits, clocked 29.02 seconds to secure a first prize of just under £1,000. The top four finishers were separated by just 42 hundredths of a second.
Elsewhere, Harriet Nuttall and her speed machine Silver Lift wasted little time in making an impact as the Somerset rider continued a highly-successful year on the 10-year-old grey gelding by winning the 1.40metre two-phase class, sponsored by A W Jenkinsons.
It was another classy performance by Silver Lift, and acted as perfect preparation for next week’s Hickstead Speed Derby, where Nuttall hopes he can go one better than last year’s runners-up spot.
The pick of the day’s two-star action saw a thrilling 1.40m two-phase, sponsored by TRM, go to Lincolsnhire rider Louise Saywell.
Other two-star winners on day one at Bolesworth were Danny McGlynn, who guided Ghana home in the 1.20m two-phase sponsored by Land Rover Experience Peckforton, while Paul Barker and Lux Fabulous took the 1.30m speed class, sponsored by the TGE Group.
And there was a nail-biting battle in the amateur two-phase 1.20m, sponsored by Halsall Electrical, as Emma Shingles and Torino triumphed by just three hundredths of a second from America’s Molly Ohrstrom.