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Piggy March and Halo lead after dressage

  • Piggy March and the rising star stallion Halo set a new record and cemented their place at the top of the Blenheim Horse Trials young horse CCI4*-S dressage leaderboard with a sparkling test.

    This little grey operates with real presence and the judges rewarded the pair’s performance with a record-setting mark of 21.3 – the best score in the history of this Blenheim Horse Trials eight- and nine-year-old class.

    “He’s a really cool little horse. He’s 16hh on tiptoes. He never feels it to ride and people always say he doesn’t look it,” said Piggy, who rides the nine-year-old Humphrey son for owner Jayne McGivern.

    “He’s very uphill and has loads of movement and presence, so he’s a much bigger horse in his person and character.”

    What is even more exciting is that Piggy feels there is more to come from Halo – a horse she cites as a “championship horse” in the making. She lists the halts, where Halo lost a little balance, as somewhere that he perhaps lost a few marks, and added his changes “can be more expressive, which will come with time”.

    “I was thrilled to bits with him today. It’s a big thing for these young horses and it feels chilly today, so they are just a little bit fresh. The flags are flapping, the flowers are moving and there’s quite a lot of atmosphere in there,” said the recently crowned Burghley Horse Trials winner.

    “I was so chuffed with his brain and how he stayed with me and really showed himself off with loads of presence. He’s a really exciting horse for the future.”

    Hayden Hankey and the talented and versatile Heads Up – who counts Horse of the Year Show titles and multiple international eventing top placings among his accolades – end the first phase in second place, three marks adrift of Piggy on 24.8.

    Friday delivered a full refresh of the top standings in this young horse class at Blenheim Horse Trials.

    Emily King and the elegant Imposant, impeccably turned out by Sarah Morrilly, is in provisional third on 25.2.

    As with Piggy and Halo, Emily feels there is more to come yet from this “sensitive” Namelus R son. The nine-year-old is owned by Minnie Kerr-Dinneen who produced the horse before Emily took over the ride.

    “He’s a very talented chap, he just needs to stay cool and calm – and to realise that he is a talented chap,” said Emily, adding Imposant can be a “bit of an overthinker”.

    “The more he is doing the more he is trusting his ability. He’s a horse that I think needs to be produced slowly and not be rushed, then as soon as he does get to the top, he will be away. He just needs to have his hand a little bit, let the confidence grow and then the ability will just hopefully take him through.”

    She added: “This is his first four-star, he’s done one advanced a couple of weeks ago at Wellington. But he is very green still with his movements and he made three big mistakes in there, without them [he would be higher].

    “And he made those mistakes because he was calm and listening, which also is what he struggles with, so to make those mistakes through being calm, I was absolutely thrilled.”

    The pair’s trot work was a real highlight, while the mistakes Emily mentioned came in the first change and in the walk pirouettes.

    “He has the potential to do an exceptional test, but he is just so green at everything still. The things flapping in the wind and the bright colours, those would be things he struggles a lot with,” she added.

    “I thought he could potentially do very well, but he could equally be very green and make lots of mistakes – and I’d actually be equally as happy with him in a way, because he is green. It’s lovely to see the judges like him so much, even when he hasn’t done a perfect test.”

    Thursday’s overnight leaders Gillian Beale King and Derena Super Star’s are now in fourth ahead of tomorrow’s showjumping on 27.6. Sarah Bullimore and Evita’s AP sit fifth (27.8) with Selina Milnes and Cooley Snapchat holding provisional sixth (28.4).

    Germany’s Malin Hansen-Hotopp retained her day one lead in the CCI4*-L on her score of 24.6 with Bodel Ipsen’s 10-year-old gelding Carlitos Quidditch K. Pippa Funnell and Gemma Stevens (née Tattersall) are the highest-placed Brits in the feature class, holding joint second.

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