Diamonds are a girl’s best friend: Day One at Blair

Emilie Chandler is in the lead in the CCI4*-L class at the Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials after dressage.

Riding Maria Doel’s 10-year-old Gortfadda Diamond, Emilie scored 31.8, with Louisa Lockwood in second on 33.3 aboard Diamond Ructions.

Land Rover Blair Castle is a nine-hour drive from Emilie’s Leicestershire home, but she said: “I love Blair, and have been coming here for many years. He is a really classy horse who has just stepped up to this level this season.

“The loudspeaker crackled really loudly during our test, which unsettled us both, but I’m thrilled to be in the lead, even if it wasn’t our best test.”

France’s Astier Nicolas, the reigning Olympic individual silver medallist, tops the leaderboard in the CCI3*-L with seven-year-old Lumberton, owned by SARL Ecurie Jean Louis Bouchard.

Astier’s last visit to Land Rover Blair Castle was in 2014, when he won the CCI4*-L on the mare Quickly Du Buguet.

“My owners liked the idea of coming here, because it is so beautiful, and the surety of finding good ground in the summer season was another big reason,” explained Astier.

He bought Lumberton from German rider Kai Steffen-Meier in November 2017.

“Lumberton’s a very cool bloke – very laidback in all three phases. I’d like to take him to Le Lion d’Angers [for the world young horse championships] and I want to test him round a big and bold track like this beforehand.”

Astier scored 31.5, giving him a small lead over both Greta Mason (Cooley For Sure) and Sarah Holmes (Lowhill Clover), both of whom have a mark of 32.2. Sarah has made the long journey up to Blair from the Isle of Wight.

Aberdeenshire rider Emma Murray tops the CCI2*-L with a very good score of 28.6 on Wainthropp, owned by her husband Shaun. He took over the ride on this nine-year-old mare after Emma finished 12th on her in this class in 2017, but he broke his collarbone in May and Emma decided to take her through to the end of the season.

“Blair is my favourite event so I thought we’d come here and have a nice time,” said Emma. “She’s good at dressage – we are going to the British Dressage National Championships at Stoneleigh at elementary level in two weeks’ time – but I didn’t expect to be out in front. It would be lovely to stay there!”

Again, two riders share second place in this section: Germany’s Josephine Schnaufer (Ronaldo IV) and Britain’s Polly Stockton (Sir Alfred II), both of whom scored 30.5.

International dressage continues tomorrow with the CCI4*-S, which features stars such as William Fox-Pitt, and also the Scottish Grassroots Eventing Festival commences. Dressage starts at 9am.

Emilie Chandler & Gortfadda Diamond © Douglas Lamont