Early leaders at Defender Blair Castle Horse Trials

Seven hundred pound horse races ahead

With the first day of dressage complete at Defender Blair Castle International Horse Trials, Italy’s Roberto Scalisi sits at the top of the CCI4*L leaderboard with Alamein. Half a penalty behind is Max Warburton with Monbeg Exclusive while Japan’s Ryuzo Kitajima and Feroza Niewmoed complete the top three.

A delighted Roberto said: “I can’t believe it. He did a 29 in our first four-star and you go off and have dressage lessons to try to improve that but I’ve been stuck in the low 30s ever since – which is fab, but I’ve not been able to break the 30s barrier again.

“He felt really good in there and deserved his score. This is his sixth year eventing – he’s an ex-racehorse who raced 25 times. I bought him for £700 to produce and sell over the winter – five years later he’s still here. The more I trained him, the better he got and he’s taken me round several four-stars, giving me experience at this level.”

It’s a first visit to Blair for Roberto, who is very excited to be here. “I can’t wait to get out on those hills. It can rain more as far as I’m concerned, I’m on a thoroughbred!”

A little dude delights

George Bartlett and Conpierre lead the CCI3*L with a comparatively comfortable four point lead over Ireland’s Amelia Leeming on Overis Cavalier. Fellow Irish rider Susie Berry lies in third place on Irene Leva. Conpierre was produced to four-star by Sarah Bullimore before being bought by John Peace for George to ride.

“I knew he had a performance like that in him,” said George, who did the CCI2*L with him last year. “He’s a little dude; a dobbin to lead around but he can be spooky and sharp to ride. He doesn’t try to drop you, but he likes to have a good time. Having got him super-fit I was a bit worried about the dressage but we managed to just about hold it together.”

Faerlie Flighty has his owner in tears

It’s a case of girl-power in the CCI2*L, the top three all posting sub-30 scores. Emma Carmichael and the aptly named Faerlie Flighty have the advantage, over Selina Milnes on Calling Cooley and German’s Josephine Schnaufer-Volkel with Cinnamon Red.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” Emma confessed. “He’s just six and very low mileage. He’s always struggled with the dressage – he’s still a bit weak and has a lot of building up to do. He also lives up to his name and is a bit flighty – he’s been quite excited to be here. I just wanted to keep a lid on him in the arena and I was so chuffed with him. That was the best he could have done at this stage, a personal best – Fiona Bell, his owner, was in tears!”

In other news

The two CCI1*L sections are currently led by Sarah Clark on Secret Affaer VII and Anna Gilchrist riding Kilimazing Topaz. Scores are tight at the top, and this isn’t going to be a dressage competition.

Three-, two-, and one-star dressage continues tomorrow, at 9am.

Ten of the CCI4*S combinations have performed their tests, with Ros Canter and Rehy Royal Diamond well out in front. The remaining competitors take to the arena from 12.30pm tomorrow.

Photo: overnight CCI4*S leaders Ros Canter with Rehy Royal Diamond © Iain Campbell