International challengers at Chatsworth

        Japan's Kazuma Tomoto and Brookpark Vikenti


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The Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials has long proved to be a place where champions are made and Japanese Olympic hopeful Kazuma Tomoto will certainly be hoping that is the case. Riding Brookpark Vikenti, he holds the overnight lead after the dressage phase in a section of the prestigious four-star Dodson & Horrell Challenge.

With the 2020 Olympic Games in his home country, Tomoto, 36, who has left his family and native country to train with regular Chatsworth prize-winner William Fox-Pitt, decided to switch sports from pure show jumping to eventing and a confidence-boosting first run over Ian Stark’s challenging but fair cross-country course in the spectacular setting of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s parkland near Bakewell, Derbyshire, will be key to that preparation. Alexander Whewall riding Chakiris Star is currently in second place (30.6) while Australia’s Sam Griffiths takes third place riding Paulank Kings River (31.2)

A host of top riders from 12 nations have descended on Chatsworth, guaranteeing a weekend of thrilling cross-country action. Among them are last weekend’s Badminton champion, Piggy French, who won the Event Rider Masters leg here in 2018, plus a team gold medal at the World Equestrian Games in the USA. Piggy currently leads the CCI2*-S after dressage and show jumping riding Brookfield Quality on their dressage score of 26.4


       Piggy French and Brookfield Quality


Her British team mates Gemma Tattersall and Tom McEwen, who rides the Duchess’s horse Chatsworth Diamond in tomorrow’s (Saturday) two-star, plus the 2006 world champion Zara Tindall will also be competing, alongside star riders from New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Sweden, among other nations.


      Zara Tindall and Class Affair in the CCI-S4* Section B


While her mum Cindy is busy as co-organiser of the Floors Castle International Horse, also running this weekend in Scotland, Rosa Onslow has travelled down to Derbyshire and holds the lead in the Advanced riding Diamond Sundance on a score of 29.7 ahead of William Fox-Pitt riding Yes I can. Another lass from north of the border, Ibby Macpherson leads the CCI4*-S Section C riding Ballingowan Diamond (27.6)

Three other sections of 2* are headed by Australia’s Chris Burton riding Jefferson 18, Britain’s Harry Meade riding Merrywell Tradition and Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon riding Gebaliaretto

There was a Derbyshire win in the five-year-old section of the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse qualifier, for Carole Kirkham of Ockbrook. Mrs Kirkham missed her moment of glory as she was on holiday in Spain, but her daughter Annie Bellamy, who was in the saddle on Shannondale Aero, was promising to send a video. The Irish-bred gelding has already started his eventing career, under world team gold medallist Tom McEwen.


       Jordan Cavanagh and GSH Kafene, winner of the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse 4YO


There was a local victory in the four-year-old section as well, for Sheffield-based Jordan Cavanagh riding another Irish-bred, GSH Kafene for Sarah Cockerham, and this pair will also be heading to the finals at Burghley in September.

In the immediate future, though, this weekend at Chatsworth offers  a brilliant array of entertainment  for all the family – including the dog, which is well catered for with the Autarky Fun Dog Show, which has have-a-go agility plus such classes as best rescue and most handsome dog.

There’s also the Paws for Thought dog display team and the Newfoundland UK Rescue Bears, the High Peak and Barlow hounds, the Sheep Show, scurry driving, Pony Club Mounted Games, pottery painting, the Yorkshire Countryman with his ferrets and birds of prey and, new this year, the Barlow Red Barrows display team.

“It has been a great day here at Chatsworth and we can’t wait for the action over the next couple of days,” said Dodson & Horrell’s Head of Marketing, Gemma Schwarz. “It looks as if we’re in for some really top-class competition.  Chatsworth House provides a unique backdrop for this special event and we are extremely proud to be a part of it.”

Dressage continues for advanced and four-star sections on Saturday, including the opening leg of the 2019 Event Rider Master series, which starts at 3pm. Two-star show jumping action starts at 8.30am and the first horse will be out on the cross-country course at 9am.