British rider Piggy March has held on to her pole position in the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials after showjumping.

Piggy March and Halo

Piggy, who won the CCI5* at Burghley two weeks ago, remains on her excellent dressage score of 21.3 going into Sunday’s final cross-country phase with Jayne McGivern’s nine-year-old grey stallion Halo.

She said: “He jumped great today. I was very pleased coming into the whole competition knowing that he is a really cool horse and a great jumper. Despite the big atmosphere here – and jumping that height with that time-pressure – he gave me a super feel and was beautiful to ride. All the poles stayed up, so happy days!

“There is a great vibe here today and it’s sport at its best.

“My thoughts for tomorrow are to just take every phase as it comes. It is cross-country next and anything can happen at any point. It is a lovely course out there which has been beautifully built and is very inviting for horses at this level. I am excited and interested to know what kind of horse I have got – he is a cool horse, good jumper and lovely galloper. I’m excited to have a go.”

Second-placed Hayden Hankey also showjumped clear on his own and Catherine Witt’s eight-year-old Heads Up – who won the Working Hunter championship at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham as a five-year-old. His score of 24.3 gives him a few penalties in hand over Sarah Bullimore and Evita AP, owned by Sarah’s husband Brett and The Seahorse Syndicate (28.2).

There’s also no change at the top of the CCI4*-L class. Germany’s Malin Hansen-Hotopp added no cross-country penalties to her leading dressage score of 24.6 with Bodil Ipsen’s Carlito’s Quidditch K – but they do not have a fence in hand over Great Britain’s Gemma Tattersall and Christopher Stone’s Jalapeno III, second on 26.3.

Malin said: “I think this is a world-class horse and I had a really good ride. He was really excited but also patient and I was able to ride him whatever way I wanted.

“I watched some videos beforehand of how the strides are between the obstacles as he has got a very long canter. Fortunately, it all worked out and it is such a great course here in beautiful surroundings – it gives you such an amazing feeling.

“I am trying to stay cool going into the final day. I said if I made it into the top 10 here it would be wonderful. My horse is a good showjumper, but you never know. I’ll try my best and to finish in the top five would be wonderful. To be the overnight leader for three nights has been wonderful and more than I expected.”

Sarah Bullimore is also in a strong position in this class, lying third on her individual bronze medallist from the 2021 European Championships Corouet on a mark of 27.8.

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