Eighty-six horses are competing in the CCI4*-L at the 2019 edition of the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials including five U.S. pairs. The first day of dressage is being led by British rider Will Rawlin and V.I.P. Vinnie on a 24.2, but two U.S. riders found themselves on the top half of the leaderboard.
Buck Davidson and his longtime campaigner Park Trader sit inside the top 10 following the first day of dressage. Carl and Cassandra Segal’s 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Master Imp x Ballyhast Polly) scored a 29.2. Davidson has two rides in the prestigious CCI4*-L competition and Park Trader had the early draw.
“You go early and you aren’t sure who is awake and who is asleep, but he is very good and he knows his job. He isn’t going to wow anybody with anything, but as long as he keeps his lid on he is good,” explained Davidson.
“He is a little bit of a funny horse – he is fairly temperamental, but I let him do his thing and he knows for those six minutes or so he better concentrate and try for me. I love him and I am proud of him,” continued Davidson.
Park Trader has a bit of a checkered record – he finished 17th at Burghley in 2018, but fell on the cross-country this spring at Kentucky. “You just wouldn’t know [what the best phase will be] with him. He has all the ability to be amazing, but he has had a hard time putting all three days together. He can do all three of them, but he has been difficult in the mind and you can just never trust anything,” said Davidson.
Davidson has only competed at Blenheim once before, but the event was rained out so this will be his first time on the famous cross-country course.
Rewatch both Davidson and Scovil's tests in the morning session.
Lexi Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z were the only other Americans to compete today – they scored a 31.7 to sit in equal 17th. Scovil has spent the year based with William Fox-Pitt and this is the 9-year-old Zangersheide gelding’s (Chico’s Boy x Chardonnay Z) first attempt at the level.
“He has always been an amazing horse. He and I both struggle with nerves when we get to the big ones, so it was so exciting for him to go in there and be relaxed and calm and rideable the whole test,” Scovil explained. “It is isn’t only my first Blenheim, but is also my first CCI4*-L – Blenheim is a big deal to me it is one of the ones you always dream of, so it is a bit surreal to be here now.”
“William has been amazing. He’s quite good on a daily basis about letting me do my own thing and figure it out, but if I am struggling or when we come to a big competition he absolutely gives me 100%. He was there for my whole warm-up, telling me when to tack up my horse. Really the little details that he doesn’t need to go above and beyond for – I am so lucky,” she continued.
“I have had a lot of really good intermediate horses, but I have never been able to take it to the next level and this is the first horse I have had a really successful Advanced season on, so I am looking forward to going on. He is the most amazing horse, we have a great partnership, and I have the utmost confidence in him. Stepping over to the UK and being based with William just as I made that step up to the Advanced level just made all the difference to put those final pieces together,” concluded Scovil.
Three more U.S. riders will do their dressage tomorrow in the CCI4*-L:
The sole U.S. representative in the CCI4*-S 8/9 YO class is Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver who ride at 10:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m EST).
Find the live scores and ride times here.
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