Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir showed why they are world champions when they produced a superb cross-country round to hold their lead in the CCI4*-L at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials at Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
They finished exactly on the optimum time of 10 minutes 20 seconds and are in line to score a second victory at Blenheim following their win in 2021.
Yasmin was also under pressure to qualify Janette Chin and the Sue Davies Fund’s chestnut gelding for the Paris Olympic Games next year where they will be among the favourites for a gold medal. “I just wanted to have a positive experience,” she said after her round.
“It was really enjoyable. When I said ‘whoa’, Banzai whoa-ed and when I said ‘go’ he went. This is such a beautiful place and all I wanted was for us to have a nice day.”
Ros Canter’s great season continued with an exemplary performance on Izilot DHI. The world number one and Badminton and European champion finished one second over the time and is within a showjumping rail of the leader.
‘The horse felt fantastic,” she said. ‘It’s the first time I have pushed him at a four-star and he had to dig deep. And he was really focussed despite the crowds, which has been our problem in the past.”
Both Yasmin and Ros have leeway over third-placed Piggy March on the beautiful grey stallion Halo, winner of the CCI4*-S at Blenheim last year. “I’ve had all day to get in a tizz,” said Piggy, “and then when I got there, I had a whale of a time.”
Alex Hua Tian is fourth for China, ahead of Harry Meade with Annaghmore Valona, fifth, and Tom Rowland on new ride Dreamliner, sixth.
David Evans’s well-received cross-country course produced 50 clear rounds, seven of which were within the optimum time, but also some form upsets. The Olympic champion Julia Krajewski, Gemma Tattersall and Laura Collett all had rider falls and Pippa Funnell retired her first horse.
Tom McEwen’s day improved after he was eliminated for knocking five rails in the showjumping phase of the CCI4*-S, in which he had been in the lead after dressage, but he is now in seventh place in the CCI4*-L after a good round on Brookfield Quality.
Oliver Townend now holds pole position in the CCI4*-S with Paul Ridgeon’s Cooley Rosalent, for which the cross-country starts at 10.00am. The price of only two time penalties separates Oliver from Piggy March, currently second on Brookfield Future News. New Zealander Tim Price is lying third on Jarillo.
Bumper crowds enjoyed late summer sunshine, thrilling cross-country action and fabulous shopping. “It’s been a great day in which the cream – two world champions – has risen to the top,” said Event Organiser, Katrina Midgley. “We have another cracking day in store tomorrow when the star horses of the future will be going across country.”
Entrance for Sunday starts at 8.00am or watch all the action on Horse & Country TV.