FIVE days before the FIFA World Cup has even started, there are problems concerning Germany and penalties at this weekend’s Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials.
German Olympian Julia Krajewski’s gelding Chipmunk and a distinct lack of penalty points, that is – with British rival Kitty King fearing the chasing pack are already merely fighting it out for second place ahead of Saturday’s cross country test.
I think it will be a case of chasing down second given her score.Kitty King
King and Vendredi Biats are one of four British pairings inside the top 10 of Bramham’s flagship CCI three-star in which Yorkshire’s leading hope Nicola Wilson sits 11th on One Two Many. But Rio 2016 team eventing silver medallist Krajewski already has a commanding lead after their serene dressage test on rising star Chipmunk FRH.
The duo put in a majestic display to pick up a penalty score of just 19.4 – thought to be a world record under the new dressage scoring system introduced in 2018. Even under the old system, Krajewski’s test would have scored 29.1, which in itself would have been just one point lower than the ‘old’ Bramham dressage record set by Britain’s Izzy Taylor on Orlando back in 2014.
Taylor and Orlando were ultimately pegged back to finish second after collecting too many penalty points over cross country and show jumping these next two days but King does not envisage history repeating itself four years on.
“I think it will be a case of chasing down second given her score,” King told The Yorkshire Post.
“Julia and Chipmunk went very well at Blenheim last year which is a hilly track – it wasn’t as tough as here but Julia is a very accomplished rider and I think we will all have our work cut out to catch her up.”
Brit Pippa Funnell, chasing a fourth win at Bramham, also admitted that the advantage now held by Krajewski was “huge.”
“I’d have liked to have had that sort of advantage, we all would,” admitted Funnell. “But Chipmunk is a beautiful horse, a beautiful mover. It looked very impressive at Blenheim as well and I think if you look over the years you get a few real superstars breaking through and that could well be one of them.”
Funnell leads the chase of the Brits in fourth on Billy Walk On with a penalty score of 26.0. The rider also sits eighth on MGH Grafton Street on 27.9.
The chasing pack to Krajewski is headed by two French riders in Matthieu Vanlandeghem who sits second on 25.2 with Trouble Fete Ene HN, ahead of compatriot Karim-Florent Laghouag in third on 25.9 on Entebbe De Hus. New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson is fifth on 26.4 with Swallow Springs.
Of the Brits, nine-time Bramham winner William Fox-Pitt sits sixth with 26.7 on Oratorio II, 0.3 penalty points ahead of King and Vendredi Biats in seventh. Wilson is 11th on One Two Many on 28.3 while Fox-Pitt also sits joint 12th on Luxury FH with 28.4. Krajewski, though, has the luxury of a 5.8 penalty points lead.
“Obviously it’s all about cross country and I think it’s a tough course,” reasoned 29-year-old Krajewski.
“It starts off rather nicely and then the questions keep adding up and especially the last four minutes are really intense so I think you have to have a fit horse. I think I have a fit horse.
“I know it all depends a bit on the day but I have a good feeling. He is normally clear and fast at cross country and he has got some experience.
“He had a really good round at Blenheim last year and the question was whether to take him to Luhmuhlen four-star or do I have a go here so he would be four-star ready but the cross country is always a bit of a surprise.
“Something can always go wrong but I am hopeful. I trust him and I think he trusts me so we are prepared.”
Northallerton star Wilson said: “I didn’t watch Julia’s test on Thursday but it must have been amazing. Her horse is very much on form and a young horse that is coming up through the ranks so she would stand an extremely good chance of success here. But it’s all to play for on the cross country and again on Sunday.”
Wilson also sits third in the CIC three-star on Bulana who will be withdrawn before cross country in readiness for next week’s four-star at Luhmuhlen. Britain’s world No 2 Ros Canter leads the event on No Excuse while fellow Brit Emily King leads the CCI three-star under-25s event on Dargun. Across the three events, nine other riders are representing Yorkshire in Hazel Towers, James Sommerville, Phil Brown, Sophie Platt, Charlie Dennis, Nicola Rooke, Katie Magee, Storm Straker and Caroline Clarke.