Woodhead shrugs off sickness to shine at Bramham

Holly Woodhead, on DHI Lupison, at Bramham.
Holly Woodhead, on DHI Lupison, at Bramham.
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YORK’S Holly Woodhead battled through a bout of ‘Tattersalls flu’ on day one of the 2016 Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials to advertise again her outside Olympic claims at the top of the leaderboard.

One year after leading from Thursday to Sunday en route to winning Bramham’s 2015 CCI three-star under-25s event, Woodhead and DHI Lupison produced another serene dressage score of 40.0.

The performance put Woodhead second in the CIC three-star but the rider will inherit first with Germany’s overnight leader Pia Munker and Louis M set to withdraw.

As part of a fine opening day for Yorkshire, Huddersfield-raised Oliver Townend also shot to third in the flagship CCI three-star event on Sandiman III, narrowly behind Australia’s leader Sammi Birch on Hunter Valley II and top Briton Lauren Shannon who is second on Quality Purdey. And while rising star Woodhead is now based in Wiltshire, the 22-year-old said her northern roots helped her overcome illness to sit top of the CIC leaderboard.

Woodhead explained: “When I was in Tattersalls last week with three horses competing, on the Sunday coming back on the ferry I thought ‘oh no.’ I have got the Tatt’s flu I think but I don’t suffer too badly and I get on with it. I’m a northern girl. Things are totally different to last year now and I am not competing against Under-25s. I am competing against the seniors, people that might be going to the Olympics. To be in that company, I’m absolutely over the moon.”

USA’s Jennifer Caras is the early leader of this year’s Under-25s event on Fernhill Fortitude.

Day two of dressage takes place today with Birch, early leader of the CCI three-star on Hunter Valley II, also having The Court Jester in the same event.

Birch warned: “He’s very reliable in the dressage. They are both lovely horses and he’ll hope to give Gizmo a run for his money.”