Tom McEwen and MHS Brown Jack took an early lead in the young horse CCI4*-S results at Blenheim Horse Trials as the promising nine-year-old channelled his maturity to earn a tidy dressage score of 24.6.
This competitive class always serves as a jewellery box of future stars. The quality on this first day was reflected in the scores, with 10 penalties separating the top 30 in the results after day one of dressage at Blenheim Horse Trials.
MHS Brown Jack, owned by Fred and Penny Barker, is a tall, powerful boy at around 17.1hh, meaning time and strengthening have been key.
“Jack was brilliant, that was on par with his test at Bramham, except for I think there are probably more highlights in his test today and a couple more minor errors,” said Tom, who scored 28.7 in the CCI4*-S at Bramham with this OBOS Quality 004 son.
“I’m delighted with him. He kept really relaxed and calm. He got very hot up here yesterday, as there were loads of horses in the arena familiarisation and it was too much for Jack’s mind to take. So I put in a little bit of work this morning, and he was great.
“I was really hoping that he would have a friend in the next door arena – and there was no one there. I thought, ‘right, he’s gonna have to be really mature’ and he was. He was fantastic.”
The pair squeezed ahead of former leaders Piggy March and Brookfield Future News by 0.1 of a penalty, to head the Blenheim Horse Trials dressage results in the eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S overnight.
Brookfield Future News, the exciting prospect who finished second in the British seven-year-old championships at Osberton in 2022, scored highly in his walk and canter work to earn his dressage score of 24.7.
“That’s as good as he’s got at the minute,” said Piggy. “He is a horse I’ve always thought a lot of and that I think is a five-star horse.
“He’s only eight, he’s not done masses this year and is quite a big framed horse, so we’ve just taken it easy. I was so impressed that he wasn’t spooky at all. He was very settled and he’s getting more and more expressive, starting to come off the floor.
“He’s a very blood horse, and so it’s great to see that there’s all this movement coming out of him, which is exciting.”
World number two Tim Price had two of his three Blenheim young horse championship contenders in action on day one. The New Zealand rider is in provisional third with the flashy chestnut Jutopia, owned by Clifton Eventers, Shaun and Lucy Allison, and Rachel and James Good.
“He’s a very sharp little red-headed thing that’s a little bit scared of his own shadow sometimes,” says Tim.
“He’s working at a good level, and he’s got a lot of exciting things in there. As he gets more established at this level, I think I’ll be able to go for a bit more, to come out of a turn and really just hit the button for an extended trot, whereas now, I’m nurturing him around a bit.”
Blenheim Horse Trials dressage results: ‘This is her first attempt at four-star’
Five nations are represented among the top 10 in the Blenheim Horse Trials CCI4*-S dressage results on Thursday.
Australia’s Sammi Birch is in fourth with Susan Lamb and Therese Miller’s Jutopia (27.9).
“This is her first attempt at four-star, so she hasn’t done that test in a competition before,” said Sammi, of the nine-year-old mare. “I’m thrilled with her, she’s a beautiful mare. I had a baby earlier in the year, and with the Covid pandemic, she’s probably a little greener than some of the others, but it’s very exciting to have her here at Blenheim.”
Mollie Summerland and her precocious talent Flow 7, who she owns with Paula Cloke and Mark Johns, are in provisional fifth on the same score as Sammi and Jutopia.
“He has so much ability on the flat and I think we’re just scratching the surface of what he’s capable of,” said Mollie. “I really do think he’ll go sub-20 In the future. He’s still so green and he’s not seen many atmospheres like this.
“He’s maturing all the time. I knew Charlie inside out, he would basically speak to me in the warm-up and tell me what he needed to do more or less of. Whereas Flow, it’s still a very unknown quantity. I wasn’t sure whether to do much more this morning, or whether to leave him and it’s just a case of building a relationship with him, learning how he ticks and what’s the best system for him.
“We’re trying different things at every event. At Jardy I actually undercooked him and then I think with the big screen and loud speakers, it wasn’t quite enough. But he’s coped really well in there today, so that shows how he has come on.”
Oliver Townend completes the top six with En Taro Des Vernier (29.1), owned by Sir John and Victoria Peace, and also holds ninth after day one with Sir John’s Caunton First Class (29.6).
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Autor Lucy Elder