A competitive field of 112 will face off in The Grantham Cup CIC3* at Belton International Horse Trials this weekend. The entry list is brimming with talent and spans 11 different nationalities, and we’ll be watching Team GB especially closely as they begin to rebuild their program following the Rio Olympic Games.
We’ll be tracking these six British ladies especially closely at Belton and beyond:
Billy Beware is the only horse in the field to boast a three-star dressage average in the 30s with Pippa Funnell in the irons. His last international run came at this event in 2016, where he scored 39.5 in the first phase. Keep in mind that 20 other horses in the field have hit the sub-40 mark one or more times.
Laura Collett and Mr. Bass have logged the highest number of cross country runs clear and inside the time at the CIC3* level — a perfect 4 for 4 at the level. To compare, Mark Todd and NZB Campino and Caroline Powell and Onwards and Upwards have run clear and inside the time three times at the level, but in 14 and 13 CIC3* starts, respectively.
Mr. Bass may be one of the hottest rising stars on the circuit but KBIS Starburst isn’t far behind, with just two time penalties and a rail keeping him from a perfect 3 for 3 with Izzy Taylor. This horse clocked in two FOD runs in the first three CIC3* starts of his career.
Kitty King and Ceylon L A N have a nearly flawless show jumping record at the three- and four-star levels. Just one lone time penalty mars their perfect record in 10 show jumping rounds, including both rounds at the Rio Olympics. If a Brit is going to take the win at Belton, the numbers point to this pair.
Piggy French is back on the scene after becoming a mum, and she has a new mount in Vanir Kamira, Paul Tapner’s former four-star partner. The mare averaged clear runs and 2.9 cross country time penalties in her four CIC3* runs last year.
Tina Cook and Billy the Red, the reserve combination for the Rio Olympics, will also look to make a case that they can be key players as Team GB rebuilds. In their six CIC3* runs last year, they didn’t pull a single rail in show jumping.
While we’re watching the Brits closely at Belton, there are plenty of other names to follow as well. Mark Todd won this class on Leonidas II in 2014 and also delivered top-10 finishes over the past two years. NZB Campino also has a top-five finish on his record from 2014.
Aoife Clark and Fernhill Adventure finished fifth at Belton last year, adding 5.6 cross country time penalties to their dressage score of 36.2. While trouble at Chatsworth and Blenheim marred their otherwise perfect cross country jumping record, a return to their previous Belton form would see them well placed on the final leaderboard.
Special shout out to Happy Times, who won this class in 2010 and now returns at the ripe age of 18 years old to take another crack at it with Sam Griffiths. This stalwart campaigner has a perfect cross country jump record at the CIC3* level, having jumped fault-free in all 15 of his completed runs.
Lastly, time penalties on Capt. Mark Phillips’ cross country course always prove influential at Belton, with just two riders making the time last year in speed king Chris Burton and Oliver Townend. Keep your eye on Oliver and Note Worthy, who caught the time last year at both Burnham Market and Bramham.
Who will you be watching this weekend? Tweet @EquiRatings to let us know.