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Rain fails to stop play as leaderboards change

Max motors in to the lead 

We have a new leader in the 4*L after a rather wet cross-country phase in which no-one came close to making the optimum time. Max Warburton has moved in to pole position with a fence in hand on Monbeg Exclusive, previously competed by Andrew Nicholson.

“I rode the horse last year when it was still at Andrews, but it was then bought for me to ride. He’s absolute class, a typical Bramham or Blair long-format horse; he stayed the distance really well, it’s an honour to ride him. The terrain always comes in to play here, but we know that in advance,” said Max.

Japan’s Toshiyuki Tanaka now sits in second place riding the ex-mount of both Chris Burton and Bubby Upton. Both Toshi and fellow Japanese rider Ryuzo Kitajima are up at Blair to try to gain points and qualify for individual slots at Paris 2024. “I have to thank both my horses; I kept kicking and they kept jumping!” said Toshi, who also lies in 6th place on Talma d’Allou, one place behind Ryuzo on Feroza Nieuwmoed.

Perthshire rider Wills Oakden completes the top three on A Class Cooley, just 0.1 of a penalty behind Toshi. Wills admitted that he had gone faster on this horse than he ever has before, saying: “Fair play to the horse, he dug really deep. I hope this will be a coming of age for him.”

Canter is copybook

Ros Canter remains in first, second and fifth place in the CCI4*S, which showjumped this morning, on Izilot DHI, Rehy Royal Diamond and MHS Seventeen respectively. Libby Seed has moved up to third with Heartbreaker Star Quality.

Former Blair winner leads the field

It’s all change at the top of the CCI3*L leaderboard. Wills Oakden has climbed two places and now has one fence in hand going in to tomorrow’s showjumping. Keep It Cooley jumped a lovely cross-country round, finishing just two seconds over the optimum time, picking up 0.8 of a penalty, and now sits on a score of 29.9.

“He’s a brilliant horse – I’ve never ridden him in conditions like we had today, but he won the 2*L here last year. I ride a lot quirky horses but this one is an absolute gentleman and a winner at all levels. He made it feel easy,” said Will.

Susie Berry and Irene Leva rocketed up the leaderboard to be in the runners-up spot after a clear round, one second over the optimum time but, unfortunately, her second ride, Jesmond Renard, suffered a fall at the double of corners, fence 18.

Katie Magee was one of only two riders to make the optimum time, which moved Agadir Gano up to third place. Katie has produced the seven-year-old gelding up the levels and in their last four outings they have posted two wins, a fourth and a fifth.

Morven Pringle fills the next two places, Something Classical half a penalty ahead of stable-mate Miss Contender. “They are two very different horses,” said Lockerbie-based Morven. “Something Classical has a lot of thoroughbred in his breeding and ate it up. Miss Contender is not the fastest but is a real trier. The ground is definitely taking a huge amount of energy of some of the horses, but I’m delighted with both of mine today.”

Thursday’s leader George Barlett jumped clear with Conpierre but suffered a tack malfunction early on, the martingale flapping between the horse’s legs. Fourteen time penalties dropped the pair to eighth, while the overnight leaders, Caroline Powell and Legally Grey, picked up an early 20 penalties at the parallel bars, fence 4a, dropping them out of contention.

Hall holds her lead 

Rio Hall and Georgie Girl have retained their lead in the CCI2*L after cross-country, coming home bang on the optimum time of 8 minutes 26 seconds. “She was bang on all my minute-markers, and the distances all rode as planned – the ground was better than I thought it would be, I think today’s warm weather has helped,” said Rio. “I can’t fault her… and she’s normally a good jumper so I’ve got everything crossed for tomorrow.”

Emma Carmichael and Faerlie Flighty have moved up in to second place after Amelia England’s ride Eluna was one of several to activate the MIMClip [a safety device which triggers if a fence is hit too hard] at the Gate, fence 11.

“I brought him to Blair because the bigger the atmosphere, the more he seems to enjoy himself. He has a lot of ‘blood’ (thoroughbred) in him, being by Primitive Faerie Tale, and benefited from that on the hills here – he was really class out there,” Emma explained, adding, “He’s very low mileage because he had a couple of winters off, when sarcoids on his shoulder were lasered off, but he’s caught up really quickly.”

Lucinda Atkinson and Frankfort Poinllexi now fill third place. This horse is something of a project of Nicola Wilson’s and is owned by Nicola’s parents-in-law. Lucinda lives a couple of fields away from Nicola and they went through Pony Club together, hence her gaining the ride.

“I thoroughly enjoyed that,” said a beaming Lucinda. “This is our first season together so I’m still getting to know her, but she’s an absolute machine with a massive heart who really wants to please. Blair is my favourite event and she has a lot of ‘blood’, so I thought the hills would suit her.” The pair finished almost 20 seconds inside the optimum time.

Photo: Max Warburton & Monbeg Exclusive © Athalens 

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