Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England—Sept. 19
Young British rider Will Rawlin is in the lead in the CCI4*-L class after the first day of dressage at SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials. Riding VIP Vinnie, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Valentino—Gianna Nannini, Grosso Z) owned by his parents Miranda and Andrew Rawlin, the Hungerford-based 25-year-old scored an excellent 24.2 in the highly competitive class.
“He’s been going really well, and I felt confident coming into this, but in the warm-up he got tense, and when he gets tense, it’s quite difficult actually to ride him forward and get him going,” said Will. “A couple of times in there I was like, ‘Oh God, oh God, keep going!’ but he kept a nice outline and a good rhythm, and he was with me most of the way.”
Will led after cross-country in the Under-25 CCI4*-L at Bramham (England) in June but had a fence down in the show jumping to finish third.
“Although it’s a very strong field and full of very good riders, I did feel confident coming in in my ability and my horse’s ability,” he said. “This year we’ve had a couple of silly blips, and actually, the last time I rode him, I fell off, but it was all me! I know if I stick to my plan and ride him properly then we should be home safely.”
Piggy French, fresh from her silver team medal at the recent Longines FEI European Championships (Germany) and a second-placed finish at Burghley (England), rode Alison Swinburn and John and Chloe Perry’s Brookfield Inocent into second place with a score of 25.4. Third is Australia’s Kevin McNab with 25.7 aboard new ride Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend.
It was a good day for French, who also tops the CCI4*-S for 8- and 9-year-old horses, Britain’s most prestigious young horse class. She scored 26.7 with Jayne McGivern’s Calling Card, a 9-year-old Holsteiner (Caretino—Nessrin, Heraldik).
“He’s a really beautiful horse—he’s stunning,” she said. “Bar his changes, which he’s still a bit green at, he’s very impressive on the flat. He was beautiful to ride in there. He is green—this will be his first advanced competition, and so I’ve come into it just really interested to see how he goes and not really thinking that running flat out and getting the time will be what he’ll do this weekend. It’s more about the stepping-stone.”
Sam Griffiths took second place for Australia with Viscount and Lady Rothermere’s Freestyler with a mark of 28.8.
“Lady Rothermere bought him for herself to ride and wanted a bit more mileage on him, so I’ve been riding him for about a year now,” said Griffiths. “He’s a really good jumper and a nice horse to have This class is like an unofficial championship. If you have a horse who goes well here, you know you’ve got a good one.”
Two of three U.S. riders in the CCI4*-L completed their tests today. Buck Davidson and Park Trader scored a 29.2 for 10th place, and Lexi Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z scored a 31.7 to sit tied for 17th in their first long-format four-star.
Davidson had only been to Blenheim once about 10 years ago, but the event was rained out, so he’s excited to compete both Park Trader and Carlevo, who does his dressage tomorrow.
“You go early, and you’re not sure who’s awake and who’s asleep, but [Park Trader’s] very good; he knows his job. He’s not going to wow anybody with anything, but as long as he keeps the lid on, he’s good,” Davidson said. “I was really happy with him today. He’s a little bit of a funny horse; he’s unique. He was fairly temperamental; he still is. I let him do his thing, and he knows for those six minutes that he better concentrate and try for me, and I love him, and I’m proud of him. He’s got all the ability to be amazing, but he’s had a very hard time putting three phases together. He can do all three of them, but he’s been difficult in the mind. You can never trust anything.”
Scovil has been living in England and working for William Fox-Pitt this year.
“He’s always been an amazing horse. I think we both struggle with nerves when we get to the big ones, so it was so exciting to go in there and be relaxed and calm and rideable the whole test. We both put it together for the most part,” she said. “He’s the most amazing horse. We have a great partnership, and I have the utmost confidence in him.
“[Fox-Pitt’s] been amazing,” she added. “He’s quite good on a daily basis and at the small competitions on letting me do my own thing and figuring it out myself, then when I’m struggling or when we come to the big competitions where it really matters, he’s there for me 100 percent. He’s telling me when to tack up my horse—really the little details that he doesn’t need to go above and beyond for. I’m so lucky.”
Davidson rides Carlevo tomorrow, as does British-based Katherine Coleman (Monte Classico) and Cornelia Dorr (Sir Patico MH). Liz Halliday-Sharp is representing the U.S. in the 8- and 9-year-old division on her Pan American Games alternate Cooley Quicksilver.
For full results, click here.
Dressage continues tomorrow. Click here for the official website and live stream.