Sunday at Blenheim Horse Trials 2013 | An Eventful Life

Sunday at Blenheim Horse Trials 2013

       Bill Levett was one of several Australians in the CIC 3* top ten at Blenheim today

The Sunday morning church bells were pealing in the lovely stone villages around Woodstock this morning as we made our way to the final day of the Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials. It certainly is a beautiful part of the world and, despite previously ominous weather forecasts, the day dawned bright and sunny although it was to change as the day wore on. Maybe the only person not appreciating the lovely morning was Oliver Townend whose horse Neo du Breuil was sent to the holding box at the CCI 3*second horse inspection and eliminated on re-inspection. Two horses were withdrawn from the CCI 3* class prior to the inspection – Lucie McNicol’s Zeus of Rushall (lying in 8th place) and Charlotte Agnew’s Out of Africa Two (35th) while two were withdrawn from the CIC 3* - Lucy Wiegersma’s Mr. Chunky (33rd) and Ruth Edge’s Mister Maccondy (60th).

The only bells of interest to the riders in the morning section of the CCI 3* show jumping were the start and finish bells. Only four riders jumped clear and under time in and once again, the time proved influential.  Warren Lamperd riding Silvia (above) was the only Australian rider in this section and was jumping a good round with Silvia giving the fences plenty of air until two verticals towards the end of the course resulted added eight faults to their finishing score along with five time faults. Warren, who is coming back from a broken pelvis in 2012, was really happy with the mare and to have completed this top class event.

"Her dressage was good, she did cross country really well and she jumped well in there” said Warren after the show jumping “She is just a bit green and I haven't done this properly in a while either. It all counts, she's come and done her job, she's learnt a lot, we've learnt a lot"

      Paul and his second ride Indian Mill

With the first section of the CCI 3* over all eyes then turned to the CIC 3* cross country as the first of the 8 and 9 Year class headed out on course. The third horse on course, our very own Paul Tapner jumped clear with 16.8 time penalties on Up In The Air but helped make the course a bit easier for others following him. Although Paul incurred no faults here, the frangible pin fence at 15AB incurred some damage and could not be adequately repaired so the Ground Jury decided to remove the B element, a log on top of the bounce step (time)


Emily Penney spoke to Paul at the end of his round on Up In The Air


The time of 6:28 minutes was proving to be difficult to make but Australia’s Shane Rose and Virgil jumped round clear with only 2.4 time faults despite the rain that was starting to coming down. Virgil has a big stride and easily covers the ground and Shane, as we all know, is not one to waste time. As in France recently, although he didn’t have the best start in the dressage, Shane managed to zoom up the leader board to finish in 13th place on a score of 58.6. 

The final ten riders to go in the class provided some of the most exciting action of the weekend and five of them were Australian. Paul Tapner and Indian Mill were the first to throw down the gauntlet as he came home clear with only 1.2 time faults to take lead just ahead of Kevin McNab who rode a beautiful round on Fernhill Quality Street – clear with 5.6 time penalties. It wasn’t long before another Aussie joined them for a trifecta when Bill Levett and Improvise took the lead on a score of 45.7 but the master Mark Todd spoilt the fun when he and Leonidas II finished with only two time penalties to become yet another new leader.

Emma Dougall and Belcam Bear (above) have had a great event here at Blenheim and their clear cross country round with only 10.4 time faults was yet another indication of the quality of this young combination that finished in 7th place just ahead of her partner Kevin

The pace of the last few riders had been fast and furious but none were as fast as Chris Burton who was the only one to come home clear and under time on Graf Liberty – but could William Fox-Pitt beat him?

The answer was yes as the scorers frantically calculated and the Brits held their breath. Yesterday had not been a great day for William with eliminations due to obscure young horse rules, a tumble from his CCI 3* horse and withdrawal of his other horse but he now had a good reason to bring back the boyish smile.

“You do have days like that” said William “When I woke up yesterday morning it wasn’t what I had in mind but that is the sport. The great about this sport is the unpredictability; you have good days, you have exciting days but you also have very frustrating, sad days and yesterday was all of that. At the end of it, I had a crunching fall and I was very lucky to be okay and that the horse was okay”

Rupert Bell talks to William Fox-Pitt

Chris may not have won but he could not have been happier with his and the Graf Liberty syndicate’s horse (above)

Debbie Higgs talks to Chris Burton


With five horses in the top ten (full results at the bottom of this article) and Shane Rose’s Virgil in 13th place, Australia’s young horse prospects are certainly looking good.

44 of the 54 riders that completed this course did so without jumping faults but only one – Chris Burton – made the time. As was the case yesterday, the most influential fence on course was the test of accuracy and control at the Fidelity Fund Finder double of brush corners. The fence that caused little grief to riders but could have tripped up a commentator with interesting consequences was the Pheasant Plucker.

      Shane Rose and Virgil cover the ground

After the excitement of the CIC 3* cross country, there was more to come with the top 35 riders in the CCI 3* show jumping. Wendy Schaeffer and Dancer not surprisingly jumped a beautiful clear round to finish in 23rd place; although disappointed with her run out on cross country yesterday Wendy admitted that she had taken a risk that hadn’t paid off but would rather that than regret not having tried it! Wendy now heads back to Australia to prepare for the Australian International 3 Day Event while Shane Rose was hopping on a plane that evening to return home for Eventing Equestriad at Camden next weekend. He then returns to the UK to prepare Virgil for the young horse’s first Four Star at Pau “and work on his dressage” added Shane with a grin

But back to the CCI3* show jumping where the absolutely charming Aoife Clark jumped a cracking round to hold on to the lead for Ireland.

The top five positions remained unchanged from cross country day and the second placed Jean Teulere and third placed Clark Montgomery put the pressure on by jumping clear rounds. Whereas the CIC 3* top ten was dominated by Australia and New Zealand (prompting commentator and wit John Kyle to suggest that Britain reviewed its visa policy), there was a good spread of internationals in the CCI 3* with riders from Ireland, France, USA, New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain. Aoife has kicked two big goals today, winning her first CCI 3* and winning the first ever Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials title for Ireland. The Guinness will be flowing tonight, especially as the Irish Junior team had just won gold at Jardy in France!

Two days ago Aoife said ““A good mare is better than any gelding, if they want to do it then there is nothing stopping them”.  She has certainly been proved right here at Blenheim

Rupert Bell talks with Aoife Clark

But it was not just about the eventing this weekend at Blenheim. Three arenas were scattered across the grounds hosting demonstrations, displays, educational classes and lower level eventing challenges. Two big events that were set to entertain crowds today were the Eventers High Jump Challenge and a Fun Ride that was to include the much loved Headley Brittania and Lucinda Fredericks. Unfortunately both had to be cancelled due to the weather.

That is not to say that there still wasn’t plenty to see and do. Utter chaos descended on the main arena at lunch time as a Parade of Hounds took place. The Heythrop Hunt and the Royal Agricultural College Beagles were joined by the Side Saddle association in a display that got very hands on as the public joined the hounds in the arena. As the dogs set about ‘marking their territory’ on the show jumps with children chasing after them, the field masters sat back and watched the drama unfold whilst sipping on a well-earned beverage (it wouldn’t be hunting without some form of alcohol!).

It has been a wonderful time at Blenheim Palace with great results for Australia, Ireland and Britain which, let’s face it, is the home of eventing. We’ll be back next year but in the meantime we’ll be bringing you more videos and interviews from Blenheim over the next few days

Click here for final results