Tag Archive: Clark Montgomery

  1. Clark Montgomery heads from Blenheim to Rio

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    What a great weekend of sport at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials; two great competitions providing two extraordinary results with both posting pillar-to-post winners.

    American Clark Montgomery fulfilled his dream of a big win, taking the CCI3* with the Irish-bred Loughan Glen. It was a big win in both senses of the word: in status and in the result.

    The combination finished where they started, with the commanding lead of 8.2 penalties, built up after cross country still intact. The pair had no need for the safety net of two fences in-hand as they jumped clear to finish the event perfectly on their dressage score.

    Montgomery now has hopes for the Olympic Games in Rio next year.

    “It’s the biggest win of my career and it feels fantastic and I couldn’t have done a better job to get selected, but you never know,” said Montgomery, who has been based in the UK for the past three years. “The reason I’m here is that it’s so much more competitive.”

    Montgomery becomes the third American to win at Blenheim following Bruce Davidson in 1994 and Kim Severson in 2001. It was in fact a great event for the Americans – four, including the winner finished in the top 11 – and sixth-placed Lauren Kieffer (Veronica) won the prize for the ‘best first timer’.

    Australian Christopher Burton added another success to his continually growing CV with second place on the German-bred Nobilis who, although contesting his first CCI3* and having only previously competed in one CIC3* (which he won), looks to be another that could be added to his string of hopefuls for the Australian Olympic squad.

    As last week at the European Championships at Blair Castle, where she was the best of the silver-medal team, Kitty King was again the highest placed British rider. This week she was aboard Ceylor LAN, another to finish on his dressage score, who has proved a prolific winner from the start; he won both four and five-year-old Burghley Young Event Horse finals as well as the BE five, six and seven-year-old young horse championships.

    “It’s been a dream season,” said King, who lives near Chippenham, Wiltshire. “This was a big test for this horse because he’s not full thoroughbred and is only eight, but he galloped all the way to the end and he show jumped beautifully.”

    A clear round promoted Gemma Tattersall and Quicklook V to fourth while Somerset based Dani Evans, ninth on Raphael ll, won £500 and a rug from the Horse Trials Support Group as the ‘best British rider 25 and under’.

    Jonelle Price it two in a row

    New Zealander Jonelle Price became the first rider to score back-to-back victories in the CIC3* for eight-and nine-year-old horses this year with the syndicate-owned Cloud Dancer ll.

    The pair had such a formidable lead going into the final cross country phase that they had more than 10 time penalties in hand – a situation which suited Price as she knew the Dutch-bred eight-year-old was not the fastest. She cleverly used up 8.8 of them to remain unbeaten.

    “He’s a very different type to Faerie Dianamo (her 2014 winner) but it’s horses for courses,” said Price. “He’s got so much quality in the dressage and jumping and he’s genuine and brave so I think he’s got a future in the sport.”

    The flying Frenchman Astier Nicolas was one of the nine riders to achieve the optimum time and moved up from fourth place to second on Helen and Paul Fearn’s Spes Addit Or, while Cotswold based Irishman Jonty Evans was thrilled to finish third on the Irish-bred Cooley Rorkes Drift, even though they dropped a place with two time penalties.

    “This horse is so good that I’ve had to raise my game. We’re not a big yard, so to have one like him means a lot,” Evans said. “I think he’s going to be competitive. I want to go to Rio!”

    On face value, the outcome might look like it was a dressage competition yet a closer look at the results sheet proves otherwise. While the winners both took commanding leads from day one, proving the advantage of being able to ride quality dressage tests on well trained horses – it is probably no coincidence that they have benefitted from training with pure high-profile dressage riders – they then also both jumped immaculately in both following phases.

    In the CCI, of the 78 that completed from 101 starters, just seven combinations (7%) finished on their dressage score – and five of them subsequently finished in the top ten: Kevin McNab (AUS) and Dustman came up from 33rd to 10th while American Will Coleman jumped OBOS O’Reilly from 35th to 11th and British rider Flora Harris was back on form after their elimination and disappointment at Aachen, jumping a double clear (albeit with 2.4 time penalties) to move up from 19th to a final 8th place.

    In the CIC3*, of 68 starters, 54 completed and just three (4%) finished on their dressage score; double clears moved Ian Wills up from 21st to fourth place to be the highest British rider with the British-bred Hartpury Sky is the Limit while local rider Michael Jackson came from 32nd to seventh with Treloar another British-bred horse.

    There were plenty who went the other way, too. Yes, few actually faulted on the cross-country course but the time was a factor and made a difference to final placings and there are always those who fall back down after showjumping – even William Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain caught a snake here, sliding back down from fourth to a final 12th place.

    Clark Montgomery with the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough by Adam Fanthorpe, courtesy of Blenheim Horse Trials

  2. Clark Montgomery keeps the top spot at Blenheim Horse Trials

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    Overnight leader Clark Montgomery remained in pole position at the end of the cross country at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.

    The British-based American and Loughan Glen posted a classy clear, one of the 13 clear rounds inside the time and, with second-placed Sandra Auffarth and Ipso adding time penalties, he now has an even greater advantage going in to tomorrow’s final showjumping.

    Australian Christopher Burton, fifth rider out in the early foggy start to the day, was the first home inside the time (by 10 seconds), and sat at the head of affairs for the most part of the day until overtaken by Montgomery. The German-bred Nobilis 18, acquired from German ace Michael Jung in 2013, is competing in his first three-star, three-day event, having won three of his four international starts with Christopher.

    “He is a very good horse and making the step up to the level well,” said Burton. “If he gets to go to Rio all well and good, but if not he will make a good Burghley/Badminton horse.”

    A fast clear also moved New Zealander Tim Price into the top three. The British-based Antipodean, who was second at Burghley two weeks ago, took the ride on Court Jester, another produced by Nick Gauntlett, at the beginning of the year and the pair won the CCI* at Barbury in July.

    William Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain was another of the class rounds of the day and the pair, contesting their first three-day since Luhmühlen last June, cruised round the course to move up into fourth place — the highest British-based combination.

    “He is an experienced campaigner and a luxury to have him at this level,” said Fox-Pitt. “The jumps were never going to be an issue but I was anxious about the terrain, which is demanding here and, as he doesn’t have a top gear, I knew that, if I got behind the time, I would never make it up — but, as it was, he came home easily inside the time.”

    But all eyes at Blenheim Horse Trials were on Montgomery, who was number 85 of the 101 starters, but the American and his Irish-bred Loughan Glen, another by the good sire Limmerick, never faulted and cruised their way round Eric Winters 28-fence course. They now sit with a comfortable lead of 8.2 penalties, meaning they have the luxury of two fences in hand in the showjumping.

    “I couldn’t be more pleased, right from the start he was on the button and pretty spot on all the way,” said Montgomery, who has been based in the UK for three years and is now at Mark Phillips’ Aston Farm, outside Tetbury, with the aim of competing in Rio next year.

    “We have had a successful year so far and yes if we pull it off this would be our biggest win, although having a fence or two in hand does take the pressure and make it easier.”

    Course designer Eric Winter was impressed with the finals result at the end of the day.
    “I did purposely lengthen the course by 30 seconds on the easiest part of the course to get more inside the time but there were also a lot of classy horses and it was a high quality field.”

    Others to move up the board included Kitty King and Ceylor LAN 6th, Gemma Tattersall and Quicklook V 7th, American Lauren Kieffer, who produced the save of the day, having been catapulted out of the saddle after the third element of the arena fence and then left hanging round Veronica’s neck for several strides, is now in eighth place, while Kristina Cook moved up from 22nd to 10th with a classy clear on Calvino.

    Pippa Funnell was perhaps the biggest casualty of the day, choosing to retire when ninth-placed Billy The Biz glanced off the hedge coming out of the water after the return through the lake at fence 14.

    Image: Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen by Adam Fanthorpe, courtesy of Blenheim Horse Trials

  3. Clark Montgomery storm ahead at Blenheim Horse Trials

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    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.

    Image: Blenheim Palace by Jonathan, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0