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Oliver Townend leads each CCI4*s after dressage

  • World number one Oliver Townend is leading both four-star classes after the dressage at the Land Rover Blair Castle Horse Trials.

    Oliver – who has nine entries at Scotland’s premier event – heads the CCI4*-L on Paul Ridgeon’s eye-catching eight-year-old mare Cooley Rosalent on 29.4. Snapping at his heels is Tom McEwen and Martin Belsham’s nine-year-old mare Luna Mist on 29.9 and Scottish rider Louisa Milne Home is lying third overnight with her own and Susie Wilks’ Future Plans on 35.2.

    Cooley Rosalent delivered a test well beyond her years and Oliver said the mare has a “beautiful brain”.

    “We’ve been in love with her since she was four years old and she’s producing on to be a beautiful five-star horse. This is hopefully a learning curve that she’ll get through well,” he said.

    “She’s only eight so we’re still educating her. The end [game] is five-star with her, there’s no question about her.”

    Oliver said he felt Cooley Rosalent’s test was “far superior to the mark” – a sentiment shared by Tom about Luna’s test.

    “She did a stunning test, but it was an unbelievably boring dressage mark,” Tom said.

    “It was a beautiful test, she didn’t do anything wrong. I thought it was more like 25. She had lovely clean changes and she got the same mark from the judges as she did for doing something a little average earlier on in the test. But she was brilliant.”

    Blair Castle Horse Trials CCI4*-S dressage

    The cream of the crop came forward in the CCI4*-S with the leaderboard changing a number of times during the two days of dressage. Oliver shot to the top on his final ride of the day, his Tokyo partner Ballaghmor Class, on 25. Frenchman Astier Nicolas lies in second with Babylon De Gamma on 26 and Alex Hua Tian is in third overnight on Pippa Higgin’s Don Geniro.

    Oliver and 15-year-old “Thomas” are part of the British team selected for the World Eventing Championships at Pratoni next month – and Oliver said the gelding “is going through the motions”.

    “He was very good [today]. He’s not tuned up at all at the minute. There’s a lot more to come, but you don’t need to do it at Blair,” he said.

    “We always like to build him up to the big occasion; he went in and did his job very nicely, but there’s another six marks to come off in terms of where we’re going.”

    Oliver said he is taking everything “one phase at a time” and has not decided if Ballaghmor Class will run in the cross-country on Sunday. But he did confirm his Burghley rides Tregilder and As Is, who currently lie in 6th and 8th overnight respectively, will showjump tomorrow (27 August) but not run in the cross-country phase on Sunday (28 August).

    “The rest are definitely running, they’re here for qualifications or progression and mileage,” he said.

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