The NAF Five Star International Hartpury Horse Trials is seemingly a happy hunting ground for Piggy March, who heads into the NAF Magic CCI4*S competition as the hot favourite with Brookfield Inocent.
On the first day of dressage, it was stablemate Brookfield Cavalier Cruise that helped raise the chances of a repeat success, with Piggy having taken this competition in 2022 with Vanir Kamira. As her second ride, and entering the arena almost at the end of the first day, the imposing gelding scored 28.1 from an experienced ground jury made up of Poland’s Kasia Konarska, Italy’s Agostino Guerolsi and Great Britain’s Ann Bostock.
Going into the lunch break, Piggy led the way with her first ride of the day, Coolparks Sarco who put in a superb test in the Gloucestershire sunshine. A score of 28.9 gave the James and Jo Lambert-owned 11-year-old the advantage early on, as he heads into this competition fresh from a hat trick of wins.
Speaking shortly after her first test, Piggy explained: “He gets more and more relaxed with each test that he does, which is what you are aiming for in training. He was very chilled and I am very pleased with him.”
A notable performance of the afternoon came from Bubby Upton with Cola III, a horse that had impressed at Badminton this spring finishing in eighth place. Here, she led the way for much of the afternoon thanks to a test score of 28.3.
As usual, a number of 5* combinations feature among the entries for this year’s 4*S. Izzy Taylor and Happy Days lie in fifth place after the first day having scored 30.4. Zara Tindall and Class Affair are hoping to continue a run of form following eye-catching performances at both Bramham and Aston-le-Walls. They scored 31.6 and lie in eighth place.
New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell and wife, Great Britain’s Georgie Campbell were both in action on Thursday. Jesse scored 29.0 with his Bramham ride Gambesie (who finished in third place) and lies in fourth place, while Georgie scored 31.0 with Darcy De La Rose and lies in sixth place.
Former student Saffron Creswell had two rides. Vivendi Hero scored 33.2 and is in 13th place overnight, while her other ride Funny Guy scored 34.6 and is in 18th place overnight.
In the other International Arena, the NAF Metazone CCI2*L saw 39 combinations come forward on the first day, in front of a ground jury headed up by president John Lyttle from Ireland, alongside Great Britain’s Lizzel Winter and Jane Tolley. One of the later riders in the morning session, Brazil’s Marcello Carvalho Jorge and Linkin Park K took the lead into the lunch break with a score of 28.5. No riders managed to better his score and he held onto the lead for the rest of the day. The top three places are a very international affair with New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell and Gracie de la Rose in second place with 28.6 and British rider Chelsea Pearce riding Kilnaboy Buffet in third place with 29.2.
Riders in the NAF Superflex CCI3*L will perform their test indoors, and the welcome shade of the Hartpury Arena saw a number of combinations that have been to this venue previously. An experienced ground jury made up of France’s Xavier Le Sauce (President) alongside Great Britain’s Annabel Scrimgeour and Douglas Hibbert, cast their eyes over 39 horses on the first day.
Half way through the morning Jason Wood and Nitor performed a polished test to score 29.8 to take the lead, which he still held onto at lunch time. The leaderboard remained largely unchanged for most of the day until local rider Tom Woodward and Jaeger Master came three from the end, scoring 29.6 and meaning Jason had to settle for second place. Things weren’t settled yet, as the final pairing of the day Millie Juleff and Viktor Krum did a fabulous test to knock both of them into second and third place respectively, scoring 26.4 and leading after the first day of dressage.
The competition at Hartpury started on Wednesday with the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse qualifiers taking centre stage and offering the final few qualifying spots for this year’s Defender Burghley Horse Trials. Muzi Pottinger and Midnight Shadow won the four-year-old qualifier and then followed up by winning the five-year-old qualifier with May B Its Maisie.
Friday sees another busy day at the Gloucestershire venue with a glittering array of riders set to take to the arenas.