Tom and nine-year-old Luna Mist produced one of only two jumping clears in the final showjumping phase, adding just 0.4 of a time-penalty to complete their weekend on 32.3. Oliver Townend produced the other clear round to finish second on eight-year-old Cooley Rosalent. Nini French and Time For Harry knocked the first part of the double at fence seven and had 2.4 time-penalties, but held on to third place and finished on 54.8.
Diane Johnson’s track was full of big square oxers and a treble combination at fence five, plus an oxer on three strides to a vertical and two strides to another upright, proved costly for many. Time was influential once again and while all the horses looked full of running, the tight rollbacks caused six of the 10 horse and rider combinations that came forward to the showjumping phase to have time-faults.
“As everyone can see, what a horse. She just popped round it – she made it look like nothing,” Tom told H&H after his win.
Tom said the course felt “quite easy” with Martin Belsham’s talented mare but he said it was a “proper track”.
“Although it was a small field in a four-star long, to me it’s no different to sort of a Bramham. You learn a lot about your horse and they built a proper decent, very much up-to-height showjumping track, so I found out she was unbelievable really,” he said.
Oliver, who was second in the CCI4*-S earlier in the day with As Is, had to settle for second on Paul Ridgeon’s Cooley Rosalent but he was thrilled with the mare.
“She’s a top class mare and she’s never felt as good, never felt as spectacular and she doesn’t know she’s not won the class,” Oliver told H&H.
“Most importantly she’s had a very good experience and proved to me she’s as good as I think she is in all three bits and she’ll have a very exciting future. This is just a good result, but no one will remember who was second at Blair – you won’t remember her for that. She’s as good as I’ve had in a mare and right up there with all the horses.”
Oliver said Cooley Rosalent will now enjoy a break and come out again next year.
“We’ll see how we go and maybe she’ll have a five-star at some point. It’s more important to keep her happy and good, but for me the performance this week means there is nothing to say she shouldn’t go to a five-star,” he said.
Blair Castle Horse Trials CCI3*-L
Earlier in the day Tom expertly piloted Brookfield Cavalier Cruise in the CCI3*-L showjumping to finish on his phenomenal 22.9 dressage – winning with two fences to spare.
“You’ve got to enjoy these moments and understand, without moving too quickly, what amazing horses and what amazing achievements both long horses have had. It’s phenomenal,” said Tom.
“They’re two different horses; Brookfield Cavalier Cruise [Fletcher] takes everything in his stride and Luna Mist [Luna] is a true gritty fighter. They’re both amazing but both very different. Luna has fight down to her core and Fletcher literally could take anything in his stride – I’m sure he could be a police horse or he could be winning Badminton. He’s the most fantastic natured horse and I’m very much looking forward to getting to know him more.
Alison Swinburn, John and Chloe Perry’s nine-year-old gelding has proved untouchable in his first ever three-star long.
“I thought the three-star was twisty and it sort of changed from a little bit smaller to very big and square so it was a good track,” said Tom.
Sam Ecroyd was second with his mother Penelope’s Withington and finished on 31. Wills Oakden was third with his wife Stephanie’s Cooley Pot Of Gold.
“I’ve always really enjoyed jumping here at Blair,” Sam told H&H. “I’ve had good rounds every time I’ve come. It feels like a big competition when you’re in there. They build it big but it’s very fair. I think the amount of clears to fault ratio that they had today was very good, it’s sort of what you’re after. It rode well, like a proper international track.”
Sam said the 11-year-old gelding has been a “tricky enough” horse to produce.
“He’s always had loads of ability. He’s perfectly behaved but it’s just been getting everything aligning in the right direction, his concentration with all his power and ability – he found it hard to control all that,” he said, adding Withington had done “basically nothing” for three years owing to Covid and then Sam being out of action last year as he recovered from a rotational fall in which he suffered multiple injuries.
“He’s probably one of my favourite horses I’ve ever ridden, not just the quality he has, but in his personality. He’s quite a funny fish. He’s great, I really love him and it’s just a pleasure to ride him. He’s really good in all three phases. My plan is to give him a really good break, bring him back in the winter and get him really fit and strong for a proper four-star campaign next year.”
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Credit: Hannah Cole Photography
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