With Belton behind us, the 2017 eventing season officially feels in full swing. We’ve already been analyzing the exciting Grantham Cup finale on the latest episode of the Eventing Podcast, so click here to listen and read on for much more.
Starting this season, our event reviews will focus heavily on examining the EquiRatings Index or ERI, our public ratings system that evaluates the quality of a horse’s performance in each international competition.
Our database considers 80 different indicators when determining an ERI, but key factors to remember are class level, field strength, dressage performance, cross country jumping difficulty, cross country time difficulty and show jumping influence.
For example, Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW’s individual gold medal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games scored an ERI of 191, the highest rating ever recorded in our database.
Look for ERIs listed in bold brackets after a horse’s name. So far in 2017, Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen  have recorded the highest ERI with a win at Pine Top CIC3* on a final score of 36.3.
In looking at this year’s Grantham Cup entries, Belton certainly drew strong points for field strength. The victors Izzy Taylor and KBIS Starburst  skyrocketed back onto the scene following a 561-day gap from their last previous international run at Blenheim in 2015.
Izzy and KBIS Starburst sat 9th after dressage on a personal best mark of 43.0 and ultimately delivered an FOD to take the win. In comparison to last year, winners Chris Burton and Nobilis 18 sat 3rd after the first phase and won on their dressage score of 34.5 to record an ERI of 144, the highest in Belton history.
At three- or four-star level, only 10 horses in EquiRatings history (2010 onwards) have topped the leaderboard following a gap of 500 days or more between international runs. Click here to see which horses and riders achieved that feat.
As previous Belton winners, Mark Todd and Leonidas II  lived up to our expectations and delivered another top performance to give them four top-10 Grantham Cup results on their record. Mark and Leonidas’ FOD performance in 2014 saw them win the class. This year their FOD finish landed them in 2nd on 43.4, just 0.4 penalties behind the winners.
Izzy and KBIS Starburst ultimately made a huge statement at Belton for the Great British Rebuilding Project. Brits took six of the spots in the top 10, with Piggy French making a grand return to the international scene after welcoming her son, Max.
We highlighted Vanir Kamira as the horse to watch with Piggy, but it was CIC3* newcomer Quarrycrest Echo  that ultimately rose to the occasion. Though he had yet to complete a three-star prior to Belton, Quarrycrest Echo proved he has what it takes to be a serious horse for Team GB in the future, adding 1.4 time penalties between the two jumping phases to finish 3rd on 43.7.
Bettina Hoy and Designer 10  have strong course form at Belton, recording their third consecutive top-10 finish and best placing to date. Their dressage score of 41.7 was their highest at the level since Aachen in 2015 to put them off the pace after the first phase, but a clear show jumping round and 4.4 cross country time penalties saw them finish 4th on 46.1 in a steady preparation for Badminton.
Izzy lived up to her #busyizzy status at Belton, delivering a second FOD performance with Frog Rock  to finish 5th on 47.2. Just one other rider in Belton history has clinched two top-five FOD finishes in the Grantham Cup. Vittoria Panizzon won with Borough Pennyz in 2013 on 39.2 and also finished 3rd with Rock Model on 42.4.
Kitty King and Ceylon L A N  did their part for the Great British Rebuilding Project by delivering yet another clear show jumping round on the way to finishing 6th on 47.2. They now have gone 11 consecutive rounds — including two rounds in Rio — without knocking a pole, making them contenders to surpass Blyth Tait and Xanthus III’s EquiRatings record of 15 consecutive clears.
Ireland had a very strong Belton and finished two riders in the top 10, led by Sarah Ennis and Horseware Stellor Rebound  delivering their fastest cross country round at CIC3* level since Ballendenisk in 2015. They came home 1 second over the optimum time to finish 7th on 47.4.
We had our eye on Billy Beware but it was Chippieh  who cracked the top 10 for Pippa Funnell in their first international run together as a combination. Adding 5.2 time penalties across the country to their dressage score saw them finish 8th on 47.9 as the final British pair in the top 10 — definitely ones to watch as the Great British Rebuilding Project picks up momentum.
Alexander Bragg has placed himself firmly on the Team GB radar after another top performance with Zagreb . These two finished fifth at Pau CCI4* last fall and looked equally polished at Belton, adding just 1 time penalty to their dressage score to finish 9th on 48.0.
In their fifth appearance in the Grantham Cup, Clare Abbott and Euro Prince  delivered their fastest cross country round at the venue to date, finishing with 1.6 time penalties added to their dressage score to round out the top 10 on 48.0.