NORTHALLERTON’S Nicola Wilson refused to be drawn on the very real possibility of a second win at Bramham, but no-nonsense Huddersfield rider Oliver Townend admitted it was already game over for his own hopes on the very first day.
Wilson and Townend are Yorkshire’s leading lights at the 2017 Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials with world No 10 Wilson looking for a second ‘home win’ after bringing the house down with Annie Clover in the 2015 CIC three-star.
Two years on, the rider’s Kings Advocate II sits third after day one of dressage in the same event with Wilson’s experienced One Two Many set for his dressage test in the flagship CCI three-star this morning.
But as a beaming Wilson heaped praise on her new recruit Kings Advocate, Yorkshire’s world No 7 Townend insisted his chances of a maiden Bramham victory had already disappeared, despite his Note Worthy sitting halfway up the leaderboard in the CCI three-star in 15th after the opening day.
Townend initially had five horses entered for Bramham, but with the rider making next week’s CCI four-star event in Luhmuhlen a priority, the 34-year-old withdrew Black Tie II, Cooley SRS, Ballaghmor Class and Ulises to rely solely on Note Worthy.
The gelding sits 15th after a dressage score of 50.8 but former world No 1 Townend was not exactly impressed.
“Not good enough,” said Townend. “Simple as that. You are not going to win Bramham or be competitive on that sort of score. But he’s here to gain experience and gain some mileage and we’ll go from there.”
Townend is the world’s second highest-ranked rider competing behind New Zealand’s world No 2 Andrew Nicholson whose Byrnesgrove First Diamond is fourth in the CCI three-star after day one of dressage.
Another Kiwi, Jesse Campbell, leads the way on Cleveland, ahead of Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa on Calle 44 and Britain’s Georgie Strang on Cooley Earl.
Frenchman Thibault Fournier leads the CCI three-star under-25s event on Siniani De Lathus, ahead of British duo Emily King on Dargun and Will Furlong on Collien P 2.
Australian rider Paul Tapner leads the CIC three-star on Prince Mayo, ahead of Britain’s 2015 CCI three-star heroine Flora Harris on Monarts Masterpiece and Yorkshire’s own Wilson on Kings Advocate II.
One Two Many is still to go but Wilson is not allowing herself to dream of repeating her triumph of 2015.
“I daren’t even think about it,” said the rider.
“It’s what drives you day in, day out and it’s why you ride through the hailstorms and the wind and the early starts and the late finishes. It’s why we all do it – to win these magical competitions.
“I just have to try and do my level best and not think about what is at stake.”
Of the other Yorkshire riders, Northallerton’s James Sommerville made a huge impression in the CCI three-star with his Talent eighth after day one of dressage after a career best score of 48.6. Bedale’s Bramham debutante Sara Bowe is also 17th overnight in the CIC three-star with Seaworthy, with Harrogate’s Hazel Towers 32nd on Simply Clover.
York’s Hector Payne is eighth in the CCI three-star under-25s on Ironstein with Womersley’s Sophie Platt 13th on Be Be III.
Today all eyes will be on Zara Tindall, whose gelding Fernhill Facetime has his CIC three-star dressage test at 2.44pm.