British riders take top three places in Event ’Rider Master’s fifth leg - luck deserts Jock Paget again
The fifth leg of the inaugural Event Rider Masters competition saw an exciting if somewhat uncertain finish on Sunday (August 28) at the Blair Castle International Horse Trials in Perthshire.
There was no doubt that British rider Oliver Townend took first place - becoming the first double winner of the Event Rider Masters' six leg contest and scooping up the £16,000 first prize from the £50,000 pot.
Riding Cillnabradden Evo, who Townend partnered to win the fourth leg at Gatcombe three weeks earlier, the pair were faultless show jumping to head out on the cross-country in pole position, where they completed an impressive clear jumping round adding just 2.4 time penalties.
Marlborough-based New Zealand rider Jock Paget was the on-and-off-and-on-and-off again holder of second place. But he was, after two reviews of the television footage of the cross country, finally found to have jumped the wrong side of a flag - and was eliminated.
Riding the nine-year-old Angus Blue, Paget had a dressage score of 50.7 and four show jumping faults and with no cross country penalties would have been sure of second place. This set-back follows Paget's terrible bad luck at Rio when his horse was injured in a freak stable accident and he was replaced in the New Zealand team.
Young British rider Tom McEwen on board Diesel took second place with British Rio team members Gemma Tattersall riding Santiago Bay in third.
The ERM final is in two week’s at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (September 10 & 11) and the contest for the £50,000 ERM bonus for the outright looks wide open.
Australia’s Paul Tapner is the current overall series leader on 92 points. He finished in sixth place at Blair castle riding Kilronan. Gemma Tattersall lies in second with 90 points, Oliver Townend in third with 74 and New Zealand's Jonelle Price is in fourth place on 69.
Tapner, Tattersall, Townend and Price are all tipped as serious contenders for the ERM series title.
Paul Tapner, who has stables in Highworth, remains hopeful: “We always thought Oliver was well suited to this series and he’s certainly making a strong late challenge, Gemma has also been very threatening on the leader-board in all her ERM starts and Jonelle is a very fierce competitor."
"I hope my horse Yogi Bear can pull something special out of the picnic basket at Blenheim in order to secure us the series!"