The USA’s Kim Severson won the main CCI3* class at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, 16 years after her first victory at the Oxfordshire event.
The 44-year-old takes home a cheque for £16,000, and title sponsor SsangYong added a Tivoli 4×4 to the prize-fund this year, which was presented to Kim by SsangYong Motors UK CEO Paul Williams.
Riding the Cross Syndicate’s Irish-bred Cooley Cross Border, Kimberley produced a perfect clear show jumping round to pile pressure on leading contenders and, when Germany’s Julia Krajewski on Chipmunk FRH and Pippa Funnell riding MGH Grafton Street hit two fences apiece, the US Olympian found herself the stunned and delighted winner.
Laura Collett jumped a superb clear on her exciting prospect Mr Bass to rise two places to second. Julia Krajewski, who was sporting in defeat, finished third ahead of three British riders, Gemma Tattersall (Pamero 4), Pippa Funnell and young rider Will Furlong (Collien P 2) in only his second three-star contest.
“I am thrilled,” said Kim. “It’s been a long partnership – I’ve had the horse since he was four. He’s had a few little issues but he’s always been competitive and a super horse. I knew he had a big win in him.”
It’s Kim’s first visit to Blenheim since 2001 and the omens are good: her winning horse that year was Winsome Adante, with whom she went on to win Kentucky CCI4* three times, plus world and Olympic medals.
Australian Olympian Christopher Burton won the prestigious CIC*** for eight and nine-year-old horses, another pointer to greatness – previous winners have gone on to multiple four-star and championship glory since it started in 2009 – with a typically stylish cross-country performance.
The smart Cooley Lands, a nine-year-old by Cavalier Land, is produced at home by his owner Kate Walls.
“Kate does all the hard work,’ said Christopher modestly. ‘It’s no secret that we think a lot of this horse.”
Christopher also won the lease of a SsangYong Tivoli 4×4 for a year.
The big story was the success of second-placed Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto on Brookpark Vikenti, who was beaten by just 0.1 of a penalty. Kazuma’s achievement was huge because he only started eventing 18 months ago.
Kazuma was watched nervously by his trainer, William Fox-Pitt, and was held on the cross-country as the course was briefly halted due to a fall ahead. However, he kept his head to complete a beautifully ridden round for just two penalties.
William explained that Kazuma was previously a show jumper but was recruited into eventing by the Japanese federation as a prospect for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
‘He’s got a very good eye and feel and he sits well,’ said William.
Kazuma was reserving judgement about his new sport: “I am very, very pleased today, but it’s quite scary, to be honest!”
Britain’s Holly Woodhead was third on Parkfield Quintessential, an emotional result as the horse, a champion as a youngster, spent some time on the sidelines with injury last year.
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