September 13th, 2013 -- The second day of dressage wrapped up Friday at the Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials in Woodstock, England. The final set of U.S. horse-and-rider combinations in the CCI3*, took to the dressage arena in front of the judging panel of Eric Lieby, Nick Burton, and Lindsay Jenkins. After scoring a 42.7 on Thursday, USEF Land Rover Competition Grant recipients Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen were the top U.S. pair and currently sit in third place going into Saturday's cross country phase. He and Jessica Montgomery, Kathryn Kraft, and Holly and William Becker's 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding remain in the top three on the strength of their impressive, flowing test. Sarah Bullimore (GBR) and Lilly Corinne lead the CCI3* with a score of 38.9, with Aoife Clark (IRE) and Fenyas Elegance are in second on a score of 40.0.
As first U.S. pair down the centerline Friday, Meghan O'Donoghue (Carbondale, Ill.) and her own Pirate earned a score of 52.3, their best ever dressage score at an FEI competiton. The pair was able to compete overseas for the first time with the help of a Jacqueline B. Mars Competition and Training Grant from the USET Foundation, and they did not disappoint. Though dressage is not the 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding's strongest phase, O'Donoghue rode an accurate test not leaving any points on the table, holding her own in a field of seasoned international competitors. The pair sits tied in 42nd place out of 84 competitors going into the cross country phase.
"I was pleased with my horse today. I thought he tried very hard and showed improvement," said O'Donoghue. "Thankfully he is a very obedient horse in the ring which allows me to focus on accuracy."
Cindy Rawson (Somerset, GBR) rode a respectable test with Mocharabuiee, whom she co-owns with Donald Collier and Pip Bowerman, to receive a score of 56.0 to lay in 62nd place. With the 12-year-old Thoroughbred/Irish Sport Horse cross gelding, Rawson produced a quality test in the atmosphere at Blenheim Palace.
With her second mount in the CCI3*, Pandora X, Julian Stiller (Berkshire, UK) obtained a score of 61.4. She and the nine-year-old Hanoverian mare she owns with Jules Delvecchio struggled with some tension throughout the test but remained composed. They sit in 76th place following the first two days of dressage.
After performing their dressage tests on Thursday, Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and Team Rebecca LLC's Holsteiner gelding Ben sit in 21st place with a score of 48.3, while Stiller and her own eight-year-old Warmblood mare Sintra BK lie in 82nd place on a score of 64.2.
In the CIC3* for eight-and nine-year-old horses, Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (East Sussex, England) and her own HHS Cooley executed a solid test Thursday in front of the judging panel of Christoph Hess, Jane Tolley, and Nikki Herbert to receive a score of 49.8. They currently sit tied in 30th place out of 67 competitors heading into Saturday's stadium jumping phase.
Christopher Burton (AUS) and Graf Liberty lead the CIC3* with a score of 32.9, while William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Fernhill Pimms are second with a 33.1 and Emma Dougall (AUS) and Belcam Bear lie third with a 35.4.
The CCI3* field will tackle the cross country course designed by Eric Winter (GBR) with nearly 40 jumping efforts on Saturday. Stiller and Sintra BK will be the first U.S. pair on course at 11:42am BST. Dutton and Ben leave the start box at 12:00pm BST followed by Montgomery and Loughn Glen at 1:17pm BST. O'Donoghue and Pirate will tackle their first cross country course across the English countryside at 2:17pm BST. Rawson and Mocharabuiee go at 2:34pm BST, with Stiller and Pandora X, the last U.S. pair, leaving the start box at 3:34pm BST.
"The course is a classic track that is big and bold," said O'Donoghue. "I think it will suit my horse and encourages forward-thinking riding. I'm excited to get this experience."
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