Day one at the 2017 Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials proved to be a corker with a truly international flavour across the three leader boards.

New Zealander Jesse Campbell ended the day atop the showcase section, the Equi-Trek CCI3* with his own Cleveland, or ‘Freddie’ to his friends.  A flowing test gave the duo a score of 39.5, the only sub 40 score of the section.  The performance may have caused issue for one fellow rider, Georgie Strang, as it knocked her off the top as long-time leader on 43.3 with Cooley Earl, owned by Lance and Diana Morrish. However all was forgiven as Jesse is Georgie’s other half!

The pair was split by Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa with Calle 44 right at the end of the day with a score of 43.0.

“He’s getting good at this phase.  He’s had a year at three star level and things are more polished as he’s more established. I’m very pleased and he’s feeling good,” said Jesse.  “He’s very talented but that has its costs!  He’s great one minute and really naughty the next – a bit of a diva!” he added.

Georgie was delighted with her day’s efforts; “I can’t believe it really, I’d never have dreamt that I’d be in this position.  I’ve always known he had a good dressage test in him!  I’ve found that you have to trust in your preparation and faith that you’ve done all you can to get your horse here in the best condition to do well.”

Thibault Fournier, a who combines a riding role at the Ecole Nationale d’Equitation, Cadre Noir, in Saumur, with a university course studying Biology to become a physiotherapist, is the leader in the Bishop Burton College u25 CCI3* section.  France has claimed this section twice in 15 years and have sent an eight-strong contingent to give their young talent a taste of Yorkshire so odds must be in favour of a third title heading across the Channel.  Riding Isabelle Fournier and his own Siniani De Lathus, Thibault impressed the judges with all three having him on top including a 76.15% from Andrew Bennie for a final score of 40.0.

“It’s my first time at Bramham and only my second three star so I’m very happy.  It’s an amazing place and I’ve never seen anywhere like it.  My horse was amazing from start to finish today. He can be tense but today he really concentrated,” commented Thibault.

Devon’s Emily King gave her mum Mary plenty of reasons to smile on her birthday with a polished 43.8 aboard Jane Del Missier’s Dargun for runners up position.  She said; “I’m really pleased.  He wasn’t feeling the best he could yesterday; he was really sharp and fresh in the wind and today the warm weather made him almost too relaxed.  He can be much more expressive with more ‘wow’ so could have been better but he was lovely and obedient.  He’s still young and this is his first three star so I’m really happy.”

17 years after his first victory here at Bramham, Aussie Paul Tapner occupies the top position in the British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3* with Fred & Penny Barker and his own Prince Mayo with an average percentage of 71.92, giving a penalty score of 42.1 to take forward to the show jumping phase on Saturday morning.

“This beautiful Park holds a special place in my heart and I’ve bought very capable horses who could all win if they perform to their best,” said Paul. “I’m not surprised by today’s result as Prince Mayo is in prime form and has already won at three star level.  I’m a little disappointed in Yogi Bear’s score (46.0 for eighth) but he’s a little older and not in the ‘Spring’ of his career like the other one.”

It’s a transitional year for Paul has he’s now made eventing his ‘weekend activity’ as he’s made the decision to help focus on helping to run the successful Event Rider Masters Series.  He said, it’d be fantastic to win in my first year as a non-full-time professional and show I can still be competitive.”

Second placed and best Brit was Flora Harris, another rider who knows what victory feels like at Bramham as the 2015 CCI winner, was delighted with her test with Monarts Masterpiece, owned by Caroline Harris and Brenda Watson.  He’s relatively inexperienced at this level at nine and this is his best test to date.  We’ve changed technique with him a bit but he’s still very green but I felt he was pretty solid today,” she said.

Dressage continues tomorrow at 9:00am with the Equi-Trek CCI3* and the BETA CIC3* underway at 10:18.

For full results and times – click here

Listen to what the riders had to say on today’s action in our media section.