Gemma Tattersall effectively booked her ticket to the Rio Olympics by delivering a command performance at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials.
Sussex-based Tattersall maintained recent British dominance in Bramham’s CIC3* competition — an important staging post in the British Olympic selection process — by taking top spot aboard Chico Bella P.
A clear showjumping round and a finishing score of 42.7 penalties proved enough for Tattersall to deliver a notable result that follows up her third place at last month’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
“The most important thing is to enjoy it while it is happening,” said Tattersall. “My top horses are going really well, and I have always believed it would only be a matter of time before they all came into their own. It’s fantastic to win.”
The three spots immediately behind her were all filled by fellow Rio hopefuls on what proved to be a highly-encouraging day for the British selectors.
Tina Cook, whose career is highlighted by three Olympic medals, finished second on the rapidly-developing Billy the Red, while Pippa Funnell and Billy the Biz took third, just ahead of Kitty King and Ceylor LAN.
New Zealander Tim Price disrupted the British procession in fifth on Bango, but normal service was then resumed by Nicola Wilson (One Two Many) in sixth, Tattersall and Quicklook V in seventh, eighth-placed Holly Woodhead and DHI Lupison, and 2015 Badminton champions William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning taking ninth.
York-based Woodhead had led after cross-country, but three showjumping fences down on her 2015 European Championships ride put paid to hopes of a Yorkshire victory at Bramham.
And the same applied in the CCI3*, where Yorkshireman Oliver Townend saw his hopes of a first Bramham crown disappear when he had two fences down on MHS King Joules.
Townend was in pole position following cross-country on 37.9 penalties, and he had a showjumping fence in hand entering the arena as last to go, but it wasn’t to be, with eight faults accrued, and he had to settle for third.
New Zealander Andrew Nicholson took full advantage of Townend’s misfortune, as even though he collected four faults with Jet Set IV, it was enough to take him top of the leaderboard and give him a first major title since he suffered a serious neck injury that required major surgery following a cross-country fall during last summer’s Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park.
Just 0.9 penalties separated the leading four finishers, as Nicholson held off runner-up Lauren Shannon (Quality Purdey), with Townend third and Australian Sammi Birch fourth with Hunter Valley II.