Burghley winner Ballaghmor Class is another of those horses that stepped up so dramatically in 2017 that we had to put him on the list. For those of you out there who had mid table finishes on 9 year olds this season, let this horse be your inspiration. Another winter to mature paid dividends, and he came out in 2017 as a 10-year-old ready to win one of the world’s biggest four-stars.
After spending the bulk of 2016 at two-star level — and taking his first international win at Ballindenisk CIC2* — ‘Thomas’ stepped up to three-star at Blenheim. Things did not go according to plan. While his dressage score of 43.7 at Blenheim was his best in nearly a year, he added 23.2 time penalties on cross country and three rails down in show jumping and finished 36th. Oliver pressed onward to Boekelo for Thomas to take on his first CCI3* and again the weekend ended in disappointment. Twenty jumping penalties added to time on cross country, plus a rail down in show jumping, a mid-division 40th place finish. Not the form that would catch your eye coming into 2017, which would be his first full season at the Advanced level. He ended it with a Burghley win in his four-star debut!
He started the season with a double clear at Burnham Market CIC3*, jumping his first clear show jumping round at international level in more than a year to finish 11th. He withdrew before cross country at Chatsworth CIC3* but once again jumped a clear show jumping round. His performance in the CCI3* at Tattersalls was overshadowed by Vittoria Panizzon’s record low finishing score with the winner Chequers Play the Game, but Thomas quietly finished 4th on a 44.4, the second FOD of his career.
He stepped up again to a bigger stage when representing Team GB at Aachen CICO3*. A moment in show jumping in the big main stadium resulted in two rails down. But anyone who didn’t know his name by now was about to learn it. He was one of only five horses to make the time on cross country in an impressive field of four-star winners and championship medalists. It was a big hint that Thomas was ready. Time for his CCI4* debut at Burghley.
A 40.2 in dressage, his best since stepping up to the higher levels and second best dressage score of his entire international career, placed him 6th overnight heading into cross country. Only three horses made the time on cross country, and Thomas crossed the finish just 1 second over optimum to take the overnight lead. When fellow #ERHOTY17 Contender Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul dropped a rail, Ballaghmor Class had the breathing room he needed to add one rail and 1 time penalty and win his CCI4* debut on 45.6. Some year!
Listen to the #ERHOTY17 episode of the Horseware Eventing Podcast to hear how we finalized the list of 12 nominees. Keep checking back to the EquiRatings blog for analysis articles on all 12: fischerRocana FST, Nereo, Arctic Soul, Horseware Hale Bob, Ballaghmor Class, Bulana, Hunter Valley II, Donner, Cekatinka, Calle 44, Ivar Gooden and Foxwood High.