The stage is set this week for the most exciting running of the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials to date on September 19-22, 2019. All of the British eventing scene’s top riders, plus many from around the world, are preparing to tackle one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular horse trials, where the newly launched SsangYong Korando SUV will also star, in the unparalleled surroundings of the Blenheim Palace estate in Oxfordshire.
Among the superstar competitors at SsangYong Blenheim Palace will be all four members of Britain’s silver medal-winning team at the recent European Championships – Oliver Townend, Badminton winner Piggy French, Burghley winner Pippa Funnell, whose record in the feature CCI4*-L class is second to none, and Tina Cook.
It is 14 years since Zara Tindall won the European Championships on Toytown when they were held at Blenheim, and she returns this year with two rides, Class Affair and Watkins.
World number one Tim Price and his fellow New Zealander, dual Blenheim winner Andrew Nicholson, have two rides apiece, as does Australian Olympic gold medallist Andrew Hoy.
The overseas challenge includes strong squads from France – including Astier Nicolas, winner of team gold and individual silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics – and the USA. The Japanese squad, who are utterly focused on success at Tokyo 2020, will be out in force.
Five riders will be flying the flag for the United States at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials. Buck Davidson with Carlevo and Park Trader, Lexi Scovil and Chico's Man VDF Z, Cornelia Dorr and Sir Patico MH, and Katherine Coleman and Monte Classico will all compete in the CCI4*-L while Elizabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver are the sole U.S. entry in the CCI4*-S 8/9YO section.
And there will be a great deal of local support for the incredibly competitive Bicester-based Izzy Taylor, a SsangYong Blenheim Palace winner in 2017, Gloucestershire’s Laura Collett, who took the CCI4*-S for 8- and 9-year-old horses, Britain’s premier young horse class, at Blenheim in 2018.
Other famous names competing at Blenheim this week include brilliant Brits William Fox-Pitt, Gemma Tattersall and Harry Meade.
In all, 15 nations will be represented at SsangYong Blenheim Palace this week, including the Czech Republic, Spain, and Denmark, as well as the more traditional eventing nations such as Canada, Italy, Ireland, and Germany.
Event Director Mandy Hervieu said, “I think this is the highest-class field we have seen at SsangYong Blenheim Palace for years. The weather forecast is excellent and the event site looks amazing."
“This is an event with a very special atmosphere, and we are continually trying to improve our visitors’ experience of their day and what we can offer them alongside the top-class sport. There is lots to do for families, great shopping, tasty food and all sorts of entertainment.”
As well as the feature CCI4* classes and a host of competitions for amateur riders, SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials features excellent, carefully selected, shopping opportunities. There is a full and varied program in the Attractions Arena on Saturday and Sunday, superb children’s entertainment and great food, ranging from outlets offering locally produced to a range of dining packages. Visit www.blenheimhorse.co.uk to book tickets and for further information.
At the second-to-last of 40 efforts, "I thought, 'This is actually happening,'" said Amber Levine of a faultless finish with Cellar Farm's Cinzano today to stay on their 31.5 lead going into show jumping tomorrow morning in the Twin Rivers Spring International CCI4*-L. The Jeffs Hot Tub Waves complex at 19 a/b was the awkward exception to a Hugh Lochore-designed course that otherwise "rode great" for the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Classe VDL x Walta) in his long-delayed debut at the level. An entirely new portion of the course around the racetrack featured a series of bright-white painted obstacles, but nothing distracted Cinzano's "tunnel vision for those flags." Levine expects a similar game attitude tomorrow and has a rail to spare.
Black stallion antics after the CCI4*-L jog inspection yesterday were not a preview of Cinzano's dressage test today. "When you are riding and working him, he's all into what you are doing," says Amber Levine, who owns the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Classe VDL x Walta) through her Cellar Farm. A 31.5 dressage test puts them atop a field of four, three of which, including Cinzano, are first-timers in the division in Paso Robles, California.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
The Chattahoochee Hills H.T. is hosting one of three CCI4*-S divisions this weekend across the country and with 34 entries they have the largest turnout as riders prepare for their spring CCI4*-L and CCI5*-L goals. The facility in Fairburn, Georgia is running seven events in 2021, but their April event is the only one offering a CCI4*-S.