NICOLA WILSON proved the strength in depth of her string on the eve of her departure for the European Championships. She won the CCI4*-S on Coolparks Sarco and finished fourth on Hawk Eye.
This is a prestigious class for eight- and nine-year-old horses – five out of 11 previous winners have gone on to win at five-star – and this renewal brought the cream of bold young jumpers to the top.
It was not a dressage contest. Ros Canter’s two-phase leader Izilot DHI ran out halfway round the cross-country, while Tom Jackson racked up 35 jumping penalties on HH Moonwalk to lose second spot. Two stiff jumping tracks rewarded horses who finished on their dressage score or thereabouts, with the top four jumping double clear and within three seconds of the optimum time.
Nicola couldn’t split her two prize-winners, who were just 3.1 penalties apart.
“They’ve both given me super rides,” said Nicola, the only rider to finish on her dressage score (twice). “When I walked the course, I thought, ‘Crumbs, there’s lots to jump here.’ The horses had to be sharp and on their game.
“I’m pinching myself because I felt at the beginning of the year they were lovely horses, but it’s always a journey trying to make them peak at an event like this.”
Nicola’s Europeans team-mate Piggy March took second on The Lancer Stud’s 2019 six-year-old world champion Cooley Lancer, 0.3 of a penalty ahead of Caroline Harris and Miss Pepperpot.
TAMING THE BRAIN
UNDER an Indian summer sun, the dressage played out in front of Blenheim Palace for the first time in this class. Ros Canter led riding her own and Alex Moody’s Izilot DHI on 26.6 with an elastic test.
“It’s a big ask coming here – we only decided on ballot day we’d give it a crack,” said Ros, who described the eight-year-old as “the most talented I’ve sat on”.
“He can be a naughty boy at times, but he’s really matured this year. He’s probably working at 70% of his abilities at the moment, so it’s very exciting for the future if I can tame the brain.”
Tom Jackson’s HH Moonwalk “delivered his best work in the arena” to take second on 27.6 with excellent extensions and changes, ahead of Gemma Tattersall and Flash Cooley on 28.3. Dani Evans caught the eye on Hollywood Dancer to lie fourth (28.4).
The eventual podium all made the top 10, with Coolparks Sarco seventh on 29.8, just ahead of Cooley Lancer (30.1) and Miss Pepperpot (30.4). Hawk Eye was only 18th (32.9).
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