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Wilson’s Clover stays lucky

Nicola Wilson and Annie Clover remain in pole position after the cross-country phase of the Blair Castle Equi-Trek International Horse Trials. 

The experienced pair set off in determined fashion and despite one slightly awkward moment when the 12-year-old mare straddled the step up out of water at fence 17b, they completed with 8.4 time penalties to give them a five-penalty cushion going into tomorrow’s showjumping.

I had a really super ride. She was quite keen and feisty, but she hasn’t run for a while so it wasn’t my aim to go for the time,” said Nicola, who explained that her 2014 World Equestrian Games partner had recently undergone an embryo transfer which, all being well, will result in a foal from the German-based thoroughbred stallion Duke Of Hearts. “I’ve ridden her since she was a four-year-old and know her inside out. Despite her quirks in the stable – she’s quite claustrophobic and doesn’t like tight spaces – she trusts me and is so genuine to ride.”

Oliver Townend, who has barely spent a minute off a horse today with five runners across the various classes, was rewarded for his grafting with two clear rounds aboard ODT Ghareeb and Lanfranco – the latter was the only one in the class to stop the clock inside the optimum time.

There were eight finishers from 10 starters in this class and there were good – albeit slow –less speedy clear rounds for Louise Harwood and Ballaheer Miller Man (fourth), Jamie Atkinson and Celtic Fortune (fifth) and Carrie Byrom with Detective (sixth).

A new name appeared at the head of the CCI2* field at the end of an influential day of cross-country. 

Bristol University dental student Caroline Clarke was one of three riders in this section to post a clear round inside the time – a feat that propelled her from fifth to first on a score of 48.3 aboard Touch Too Much.

I’m absolutely astonished,” she admitted. “I watched the overnight leader [Emily Young-Jamieson] get eliminated at the second-last fence and saw all the other carnage out there. I never imagined I’d make it round.

Caroline’s achievement is all the more remarkable given that Touch Too Much is her only horse and he is stabled several hundred miles away at her parents’ yard in Northallerton.

I only get to ride him during the holidays and occasionally go home at weekends during the summer,” she said. “Luckily my mum hacks him for me and my trainer, Sue Baguley, schools him on the flat.” 

Jonelle Price shot up the leaderboard with a clean sheet aboard Kindred Spirit IV to lie second overnight on 54.2, while Hector Payne had plenty to celebrate with two clear rounds aboard Dynasty and Ironstein to lie third and sixth. The former was inside the time and the latter clocked up just two time penalties.

In the CCI1*, Jonelle Price went one better and remains at the head of the field after a foot-perfect trip across country on OBOS Impressive – who certainly lived up to her name. She added nothing to her dressage score of 41.3, giving her a very narrow advantage going into tomorrow’s showjumping phase.

She’s a proper little athlete and quite experienced to come here. The main aim is Le Lion [seven-year-old championship] at the end of the season, so this was great preparation,” said Jonelle.

For the full results from today, click HERE.

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