A happy day for the Aussies at Blenheim

As day two of the Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials dawned, dark clouds gathered overhead and it seemed it would be another day of dressage in the damp. The rain did nothing to stop the crowds however, and as the day wore on more and more people gathered round to see some spectacular displays of high scoring dressage. As the heavens opened the Australians came out to play, and they certainly put their best foot and hoof forward. The Aussies are in very competitive positions, holding on to three of the top five placings at the end of the dressage phase in the CIC***.

   “The one thing is, he likes to win that’s for sure,” Chris says

Leading that class aboard the stunning Graf Liberty is Chris Burton. The pair entered the Churchill Arena in the final session of dressage and they impressed from start to finish. “He was super, he was really great because he’s quite green at this level and actually has not been going that well during the week,” Chris said. “He worked in nicely and went in there and gave me everything he had.”

Watch Chris Burton's test above and listen to his interview below


The eight year old gelding, Graf Liberty is owned as part of a syndicate and won the CIC** at Pau last year. The pair have continued to have great success this year and Chris is looking forward to tackling the jumping phases in the coming days. “He’s a good jumper, he’s very scopey although I hear we’re in for a monsoon tonight and tomorrow night so it could be interesting but he’s got some Irish blood so he should skip through the mud alright.”

   The Graf Liberty Syndicate including Nick Humpston, Anna Humpston, Sally Humpston, David Webster,
   Jill Martin and Ava the dog
  (Not pictured: Ian and Katherine Timmis)

Breathing down Chris’ neck is William Fox-Pitt, just 0.2 penalties separate him and first place. William performed a lovely, accurate test aboard Fernhill Pimms to finish on a penalty score of 33.1. On his second ride Freddie Mac, the Brit holds onto sixth place ahead of tomorrow’s show jumping. With just 7.7 penalties separating first and tenth place, the jumping phases are sure to be influential in this battle of the eight and nine year olds.

   William Fox-Pit and Fernhill Pimms lie in second place in the CIC***

Emma Dougall and Belcam Bear’s day one score of 35.4 has proved to be enough to keep her close to the top of the leader board. She lies in third place and is closely followed by Andrew Nicholson and Zaron who sit in fourth on 35.8. Paul Tapner kick started the final session of dressage this afternoon by completing a very impressive test. Paul lies in fifth place aboard Indian Mill and a bit further down the field with Up In The Air.

Bill Levett rode through the rain aboard Improvise, a horse he came second with in the CCI*** at Tattersalls earlier this year. He sits in a competitive position in 15th place with 42.5 penalties.

   Bill Levett and Improvise

Kevin McNab and Fernhill Quality Street also had to contend with adverse weather conditions but they lie closely behind Bill on 45.6.

   Kevin McNab didn't enjoy the best of the weather

Sam Griffiths and Shane Rose round out the other Australians in this 8 and 9 year old CIC*** class. Sam sits on 47.3 penalties and in =20th place aboard Favorit Z while Shane and Virgil II will enter tomorrow’s show jumping on 56.2 penalties.

   Shane Rose and Virgil II are first timers at Blenheim

In the CCI*** class it was all about the young girls. Great Britain’s Sarah Bullimore shot to the lead aboard her nine year old mare Lilly Corinne. The pair were the only combination to go under 40 penalties in the class, finishing on a score of 38.90. A small crack in the wall of Lilly Corinne’s hoof has prevented Sarah from running the mare on hard ground this season. This means that Blenheim is the mare’s second run for the year; however Sarah is confident that the young ‘prima donna’ is ready to tackle the tough course.

“She is still only a nine year old and a bit green but she’s got a good brain and she’s certainly done enough to prepare,” Sarah said. Sarah has had the mare since she was a four year and together at this age, the pair won the British Eventing Breeding Championships. “As five year old she was evil to the point where I used to save her till last everyday to ride because she was so horrible,” Sarah laughed.  “But we’ve come through the other side and she is a sharp mare.”

   Sarah Bullimore was all smiles at this afternoon’s press conference

Ireland’s Aoife Clark also sits at the top of the leader board in the CCI*** after the completion of the dressage phase aboard another brilliant young mare, Fenyas Elegance. Aoife speaks of the nine year old mare with great admiration.  “She’s an alpha female,” Aoife said. “She’s supremely talented, she’s got some jump, she can do everything.” Blenheim is Aoife’s local event and she is looking forward to the cross country test on Sunday. “There’s certainly questions on a couple of the corners earlier on and the hills will play a part.”

   Wendy Schaeffer and Koyuna Sun Dancer complete the dressage in front of the stunning Blenheim Palace

Clark Montgomery lost his overnight lead in this class but he lies in third place closely behind on 42.7 penalties. Australia only has two combinations in the CCI*** class but they both sit in respectable positions in the middle of the field. Wendy Schaeffer and Koyuna Sun Dancer received a penalty score of 51.5 and with Wendy’s fantastic track record in the jumping; they are in a great position to move up over the next two days.

Warren Lamperd has had an eventful lead up to this event. He broke his pelvis last year and had another nasty fall at the beginning of this year which makes getting in and out of the dressage saddle a tad uncomfortable. He was very pleased with Silvia’s test, a mare that he owns himself along with his wife. “This is a really nice horse, it’s one that we bought and broke in as a six year old,” Warren said. “She dumped me about 30 times trying to break her in and she just keeps coming out, keeps trying, she won’t stand still and it is just starting to come together at this level.”

   Warren Lamperd is delighted with Silvia’s progress

The beautiful grey mare is 12 years old now but Warren says that she has a very low mileage. “There are great chunks of rust coming off me, I’m just trying to get it all working again and literally this weekend I have no expectations, just go and do it and have some fun.” Warren sits on a score of 52.7 and believes that Silvia can only keep on improving. “She’s a hell of a character and she’s great fun to have.”