The world number one Rosalind Canter crowned a brilliant season by winning the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials for the first time, riding Alex Moody’s characterful 10-year-old Izilot DHI.
The excitement was maintained until the very end when the overnight leaders, world champion Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir, lowered the very last showjumping fence to drop to second place.
Ros, who was the 2018 world champion, has had an incredible season, winning Badminton and the European title, but a victory at Blenheim has so far eluded her.
The Dutch-bred Izilot DHI has won CCI4*-S competitions at Bramham and Blair Castle, and is hugely talented, but he can also become distracted by crowds on the big occasions. However, he maintained his focus at Blenheim for a foot-perfect performance across all three phases.
“I am so proud of how he jumped,” said Ros. “He can be cheeky and spooky, but he coped very well this weekend and that is exciting for the future. I feel there is loads more to come with this horse and feel very lucky to have him. He is now ready to go on to a five-star.”
Yasmin Ingham was sporting in defeat, but she did achieve her overarching aim of qualifying for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024. “I thought it was all going rather too well,” she said ruefully. “But I am still thrilled with how it went. Banzai is such a lovely horse to have.”
Harry Meade achieved his best result at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, finishing third on his dressage score with Annaghmore Valona, a mount he has taken over from Australian rider Sam Griffiths.
Tom McEwen was fourth on Brookfield Quality, Tom Rowland was fifth on Dreamliner and Piggy March ended up in sixth place with one rail down on the stallion Halo, winner of last year’s CCI4*-S at Blenheim, completing an all-British top six.
Piggy also finished second, on Brookfield Future News, in this year’s CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses behind Oliver Townend on Paul Ridgeon’s outstanding grey mare Cooley Rosalent. New Zealander Tim Price came third on Jarillo.
Piggy had set a hard target for Oliver, who could only afford to be one second over the optimum cross-country time, but the nine-year-old Cooley Rosalent flew around David Evans’s beautifully presented course.
“It was quite a challenging track for eight- and nine-year-old horses, but it was exactly right for a championship,” said Oliver, who has had a good week with a recent win at Burghley.
“This horse is something different. We’ve had her since a four-year-old and she’s been special since the word go. She’s got lots of blood and she really wants to do it; she had her ears pricked all the way round the cross-country.”
The Elite Stallions Cup for the highest ranking British Bred horse in the 8/9yo championship went to D.Day ridden by Caroline Harris, owned by Fiona Olivier, Lucy Matthews , Marie Anne Richardson and Heather Royle.
“Blenheim has often been a proving ground for stars of the future and I have no doubt that the two winners of 2023 will go on to greater glory,” said Event Organiser, Katrina Midgley.
“I also have to congratulate everyone who took part in the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials — each and every person involved has contributed to make this a truly special event for all of us.”
For full results, visit www.eventingscores.co.uk