Clark Montgomery will be hoping that a superb pillar-to-post victory in the CCI3* at the 25th anniversary Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials will be enough to impress the selectors for the American eventing team at next year’s Rio Olympics.
Two immaculate jumping performances meant he added nothing to his leading dressage score of 33.8 on Holly and William Becker’s Loughan Glen, the horse he finished third on here two years ago.
Left: Clark Montgomery with the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough
“I couldn’t have done a better job to get selected, but you never know,” said Clark. “It’s the biggest win of my career and it feels fantastic.”
Clark, whose wife Jessica was acting as his groom, has been based this year with Capt Mark Phillips at Aston Farm in Gloucestershire. “The reason I’m here [in Britain] is that it’s so much more competitive.”
The supremely talented Christopher Burton’s purple patch continued with second place, also on a clean sheet, with Sue Lawson and Carolyn and Anthony Townsend’s Nobilis 18, a horse he hopes to add to his string of possibilities for the Australian team at the Olympics.
Kitty King, also, is enjoying the season of her life. Last weekend she was the best of the silver medal British team at the Europeans; here, she finished third and best Briton on her Tattersalls CCI3* winner, Jacqueline Owen, Diana Bown and Samantha Wilson’s Ceylor LAN.
“It’s been a dream season,” said Kitty, who lives near Chippenham, Wiltshire. “This was a big test for this horse because he’s not full thoroughbred and is only eight, but he galloped all the way to the end and he show jumped beautifully.”
It’s perhaps fortunate that Clark Montgomery has only a short journey home – he won fistfuls of prizes in kind, including from Equilibrium, John Sankey Furniture, Lansdown Country, the Oxford Times and Stormtech.
In a good day for the US squad, Lauren Kieffer, sixth on Veronica, took home the Ariat prizes for best first-timer at Blenheim, and Dani Evans, ninth on the upstanding Raphael ll, won £500 and a Thermatex rug from the Horse Trials Support Group as best British rider aged 25 and under.
Earlier, the crowd was treated to stirring parades by Britain’s medal-winning senior, Young Rider, Junior, Pony and CIC2* teams plus one very special visitor: to a standing ovation, Zara Phillips cantered around the arena on Toytown, the wonderful old horse with whom she won the European title at Blenheim 10 years ago.