Exciting finish at Burgham as Laura Collett edges out Oliver Townend
A brilliant performance by Laura Collett meant that she snatched the fourth leg of the Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam at the Owen Pugh Burgham International Horse Trials from Oliver Townend.
Riding Mr Bass, Laura finished on her dressage score of 39.9, half a penalty ahead of Oliver and Cooley Master Class, who had won the first leg of the series at the Barefoot Estates Burnham Market International Horse Trials in April.
Oliver set off on the cross-country course knowing he had to go inside the time to win, but came home just a couple of seconds over. He also took third place on Cooley SRS.
Dressage leaders Kitty King and Vendredi Biats slipped to fifth place behind Flora Harris and Bayano with a showjump down and a few cross-country time-faults.
This means there is no overall Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam winner for 2017 – no rider has won more than one leg so far this season. But they will once more be gunning for the £50,000 prize in 2018.
New winner at Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International Horse Trials
Bettina Hoy and Seigneur Medicott headed the leader board at the Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton Horse Trials. Houghton hosted the third leg of the Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam which now means that we have three different winners of the first three legs. It will be all to play for at the next leg at Burgham Horse Trials in July.
Bettina lead from start to finish at Houghton. Tied in first place with Jesse Campbell and Cleveland after the dressage with Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot from the United States only 2 marks adrift. A clear round for Bettina in the show jumping put pressure on Jesse who unfortunately lowered two poles.
The pressure on the leader was therefore reduced a little as Bettina now had a 5 point margin for error. However a fast clear, inside the time, clinched the title for this German combination.
Second Leg at Barefoot Estates Burnham Market
For the 10th time since 2007 Oliver Townend claimed the CIC3* class at Burnham Market, and with it the second leg of the Tri-Star Grand Slam. Oliver could, in theory, have made it a 1-2 but after establishing an unbeatable lead on his 2016 winner Cooley Master Class he withdrew Note Worthy, who coincidentally was runner up last year behind his stable mate.
Second after dressage behind the eventual third placed combination, Andrew Nicholson and Byrnesgrove First Diamond, Cooley Master Class jumped one of just five cross country clears inside the optimumtime, moving to the top of the leaderboard when Nicholson finished 21 seconds over time.
Oliver Townsend receiving his trophy from Sarah Skillen
Also clear inside the time was Belton’s third placed rider Piggy French, who went one better at Burnham Market to take the runner up spot. This time Piggy was riding Vanir Kamira, a horse that she produced back in 2012 before the ride went elsewhere, only returning to Piggy’s Maidwell base last winter.
Last year Oliver was the only rider to win two of the five qualifying competitions, and with one in the bag already he is certain to be riding for that £50,000 winner-takes-all bonus in 2017. Next stop Houghton Hall at the end of May.
First Leg at Belton Park
The first leg of the Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam at Belton Park lived up to the billing. Going into the final cross country phase there were four riders locked together with less than 2 marks separating them. Time was to play a crucial role in deciding the final placings.
Bettina Hoy, third in 2016, and Designer 10 picked up 4.4 time penalties relegating them to 4th place. Piggy French has a wonderful ride on Quarrycrest Echo, stopping the clock just 1 second over the optimum time, leaving her on a total of 43.7. Piggy had also collected an unfortunate time penalty in the show jumping, she will be ruing the 2 seconds that relegated her to third. Sir Mark Todd riding the 2014 Grantham Cup winner Leonidas II showed all why he is still a major force in the sport and stormed round the cross country inside the time, one of only six combinations to do so. It was then all down to Izzy Taylor and KBIS Starburst. Izzy stopped the clock with the fastest time of the day, some 10 seconds inside the required time. For the first time since 2012 the Grantham Cup has been won by a British rider.
Izzy Taylor receiving her Trophy at Belton from Kirsty Law of Shearwater Insurance
The Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam is now well in Izzy’s focus as the riders head to Burnham Market for the next leg. In order to secure the £50,000 bonus, Izzy must win three of the five legs. Houghton Hall will host the third leg, with Burgham and Hartpury as the final two legs.