After Oliver Townend dominated the maiden season of the ERM, the girls were out in force, with everyone eyeing the £16,000 first prize and 30 precious points on the board, with all competitors hoping to clinch the series after seven mouth-watering legs.
Thomas Carlile posted a very impressive dressage score of 33.2 to lead proceedings going into the show jumping, with just 0.5 of a penalty in hand over Britain’s in form front-runner, Gemma Tattersall. She and her Olympic mount, Quicklook V were within touching distance following a tidy performance in the first phase and really piled on the pressure following a superb clear round in the show jumping.
Carlile and Upsilon were absolutely flying and looked to be home in the show jumping arena, before an uncharacteristic stop at the penultimate fence. That particular combination had been causing problems throughout the day, but Tom was very disappointed to pick up four faults and five time penalties, dropping him way down the order.
Faultless show jumping rounds from Nicola Wilson, Andrew Nicholson, Sarah Cohen and Vittoria Panizzon rocketed them up the rankings and gave them the opportunity to bust a few moves to the ERM music played for a clear round, giving the whole event a carnival-like feel.
Pippa Funnell, Blyth Tait, Sam Griffiths and Sam Ecroyd all sadly withdrew their horses prior to the final phase, leaving a field of eleven Nations to battle it out for the top spots.
The undulating cross country course at Chatsworth had been causing all sorts of problems with riders desperately pushing for the optimum time, but falling short. Ireland’s Elizabeth Power and Saladoun had posted a 47.8 dressage score to leave them way down the order, but followed up with one of few clear show jumping rounds. The pair then motored across the country to stop the clock with 21 seconds still on the watch, which was truly staggering. Elizabeth received a rapturous applause as she came down to the podium to take her seat. Such a time on the Chatsworth track is practically unheard of. Marcio Jorge and Thomas Carlile were the only other competitors in this class to add no penalties to their scores across the country and all were rewarded with a boost in the final rankings.
Nicola Wilson and Bulana just missed out on a podium finish, by 0.1 of a penalty to take 4th place, just ahead of Andrew Nicholson, fresh from his Badminton victory. He piloted the stunning Swallow Springs to a clear show jumping and added only 0.4 time penalties to his dressage score to complete on a three-phase total of 44.6.
After re-routing from Badminton to Chatsworth, Bettina Hoy and Designer 10 set out to show they mean business. As expected, the pair pranced to podium glory following an almost perfect display. They added just one time penalty in the show jumping to their impressive 38.4 dressage score and then powered around the cross-country course, full-throttle to add only 1.2 time penalties to their final score, piling all the pressure on last-to-go, Gemma Tattersall.
Gemma and Quicklook V galloped out of the start box knowing that victory was in touching distance. The Olympic partnership could afford time faults to maintain their lead and only added 3.2 penalties as they sailed over the line, to finish on an eye-catching score of 36.9.
As they say, points mean prizes and in this case, Gemma Tattersall has scooped 30 points to put on the board for the ERM series title, which will conclude after six more tantalising stages. It was a truly exhilarating contest and incredible to see such a variation of Nationalities in the top ten.
Final standings are as followed:
1st – Gemma Tattersall (GBR) and Quicklook V
2nd – Bettina Hoy (GER) and Designer 10
3rd – Thomas Carlile (FRA) and Upsilon
4th – Nicola Wilson (GBR) and Bulana
5th – Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and Swallow Springs
6th – Sarah Cohen (GBR) and Treason
7th – Elizabeth Power (IRE) and Soladoun
8th – Ros Canter (GBR) and Zenshera
9th – Marcio Jorge (BRA) and Coronel MCJ
10th – Vittoria Panizzon and Borough Pennyz