Both Britain’s Piggy March and Germany’s Malin Hansen-Hotopp held on to the leads they established after dressage to win their classes at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials today.

Piggy, victorious in the CCI5* at Burghley two weeks ago, took the prestigious CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses on Jayne McGivern’s nine-year-old stallion Halo – a horse which has been with her for less than a year after being bought from Australian rider Kevin McNab last winter. The pair just added 2.8 cross-country time-faults to their dressage mark of 21.3 to finish a comfortable 4.1 penalties ahead of second-placed Sarah Bullimore and her husband Brett and The Seahorse Syndicate’s Evita AP. New Zealand rider Caroline Powell was third on Greenacres Special Cavalier, owned by Chris Mann.

Piggy March and Halo

Piggy last won this class for young horses back in 2009 aboard Flying Machine.

She said: “Halo is a fantastic little horse and is so much fun. He is quite low on mileage and I just felt I wanted to hold his hand a couple of times to make sure I got it done, rather than knowing he’s a schoolmaster who can knife in and take strides out. He found it very easy and this will have brought him on as well for the future, which is really exciting.

“It is great for my owner Jayne McGivern – she has been amazing for me. She lives locally to Blenheim and to win here was on her wish-list, but that is easier said than done, so this is very special.”

Malin Hansen-Hotopp was competing in Britain for the first time, and was thrilled to win the feature CCI4*-L class on Bodil Ipsen’s Carlito’s Quidditch K. After adding nothing on the cross-country yesterday to her leading dressage mark of 24.6, she left all the showjumps up today and just collected 1.2 time-faults.

Malin Hansen-Hotopp and Carlito’s Quidditch K

“I’m just so pleased to have this horse,” she said. “I was just really concentrating and trying to enjoy it. This morning at 5am I was feeling really nervous, but I thought, ‘No, I just need to concentrate and focus’, so I went to the stables.

“Now I am the winner! It’s just awesome and I can’t describe the feeling. I think back at home I will have a big party. I’m just so happy – he’s the best horse. I had time to think and enjoy the experience – it was just brilliant.

“This win is for my father. He died when I was 13. He was an event trainer and trained [German Olympic team gold medallist and new German eventing team trainer] Peter Thomsen on our cow fields – Peter jumped his first jump for him. This win is for my father as I am just doing what he loved.”

Her German compatriot Dirk Schrade finished second on his dressage score of 29 with Freya Rethmeier’s Casino 80. Britain’s Bubby Upton was third with the Chedington Estate’s Jefferson 18 – a horse she only took over the ride on from Christopher Burton this spring. Dirk and Bubby completed on the same score, but Dirk’s cross-country time was closer to the optimum, giving him the higher placing.

While Malin and Dirk helped give Germany an outstanding week in eventing – the national team won the World Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, which ran concurrently with Blenheim – it was also significant that the new individual World Champion, Britain’s Yasmin Ingham, won Blenheim’s CCI4*-L class in 2021 on her gold medal ride Banzai Du Loir. The pair also took the eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S in 2020 at Burnham Market, which replaced the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials that was lost that year due to the Covid pandemic, thus exemplifying the importance of these classes to the development of the very top end of the sport of eventing in the UK.

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