In the Equi-Trek CCI-L4*, an afternoon downpour didn’t put off  the experienced Pippa Funnell with Mr and Mrs Walkinshaw’s 10 year old Billy Walk On; “We’re used to working in all weathers!” said Pippa. Their polished test scored 26.6 to narrowly go ahead of the morning’s top score, from fellow Brit Kitty King and Vendredi Biats, of 26.8.

Homebred at the Billy Stud, by Billy Mexico, Billy Walk On has always been destined for great things having won the British Eventing Young Horse Championships CIC YH* back in 2015, and placing second at Le Lion CH** in 2016. The combination recently contested their first CCI-L5* at Badminton but retired on the cross country.

Speaking of the cross country course ahead of them tomorrow, “The ground is fantastic, so hopefully the ground will take a bit more rain, the park is in immaculate condition and they do such a first rate job at preparing the course,” said Pippa. “It’s big, it’s very much an Ian Stark ‘Scotty’ course all the way, plenty to jump out there, particularly the new combination into the wood, which is a tough fence this year, after a long run and gallop, it’s a difficult fence. Hopefully the rain will stay away!”

Completing a female British 1, 2, 3, Gemma Tattersall and the 11 year old Jalapeño III, sired by William Fox-Pitt’s Olympic ride Chilli Morning, also battled through the afternoon rain. They were still able to secure a very competitive score of 26.9 leaving it all to play for as we head into cross country day tomorrow.

In the British Horse Feeds U25 CCI-L4*, there was no change for the top two positions where Richard Coney and Yasmin Ingham remain after strong performances yesterday. However, Cheshire-based Sam Ecroyd was able to get into a podium position today. He and Vicki Irlam’s Davinci III rode a confident test to score 30.4 and move into third. The combination are relatively new, having only competed together since the end of last season, but they’re on fine form having ridden two double clears for two top ten finishes in both the 4* level competitions they’ve competed at this year – they could be ones to watch out for tomorrow.

Last night’s leaders in the Land Rover CCI4*-S Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin now find themselves in fifth after a busy day at the top of the leaderboard. Laura Collett, who was first to go after the morning break with the ten year old Dacapo, owned by Diana Chappell, Gillian Morris-Adams, Alison Smedley, Michael Smedley and Carolyn Taylor, swept into the lead with a new international personal best of 23.3. Exactly an hour later, reigning under 25 Champion Emily King came close with Jane del Missier’s Brookleigh, just 0.3 penalties adrift on 23.6.

2014 Bramham CCI winner Aoife Clarke then put in a great performance with Fernhill Adventure, which she jointly owns with Richard Last, to score 24.2 for a top five spot.

However it was the final combination of the day who whisked into the lead with a very special ride. Gemma Tattersall, who’d already had a good ride in the main section with Jalepeno III, might not have been filled with confidence that it would be a good test as her ride, Quicklook V, owned by the Pebbles Syndicate, is renowned for preferring dry, perfect conditions and by that time of day, the promised rain had set in. But it certainly didn’t put ‘Pebbles’ off, rather the contrary and it was a polished test full of highlights right until the final centreline where German judge Martin Plewa awarded a perfect ten for the halt. After an anxious wait the final score was confirmed as 21.6, a new international best at the level and the coveted lead ahead of tomorrow morning’s show jumping.

A delighted Gemma said afterwards; “She genuinely just loves showing off! She’s normally a complete princess and likes sunshine and a beautiful surface. Chatsworth [her last event] was not her event and she just felt wrong from the moment we got there but she got here and has been amazing. I love riding her and I just enjoyed it.  I’m hoping it won’t rain too much for tomorrow and we can run her.”

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