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Final Fence Heartbreak for Ingham at Blenheim

Sun, 17 Sep 2023

Yasmin Ingham (Banzai du Loir) at Blenheim - Photo: Tilly Berendt (Eventing Nation)
Yasmin Ingham (Banzai du Loir) at Blenheim - Photo: Tilly Berendt (Eventing Nation)

Manx equestrian, Yasmin Ingham's hopes of winning a second title at Blenheim International Horse Trials went right to the final fence of the competition.

Ingham produced a fluent, effortless looking round, but with the finish line in sight, Banzai just seemed to mis-judge the height of the last fence and the top pole fell to the floor taking with it the win. 

The four penalties for the dropped pole relegated Ingham to second place, and elevated fellow British competitor, and recently crowned European Champion Ros Canter to the top of the podium.

Olympics - Paris 2024

Despite the disappointment of not taking the crown, Ingham's main focus for this event was to secure a Paris 2024 Olympic qualifying result.

Ingham said, "I thought it was all going rather too well. But I'm still thrilled with how it went".

Although the pairing of Ingham and Banzai Du Loir are current World Champions, this status does not automatically qualify them for next Summer's Olympic Games. Competitors looking to represent their country must obtain certain qualifying criteria in the preceding year, or current year, to when the games fall.

Olympic selection is a technical one, based on key performance targets rather than, for example top ten finishes. Team selectors may only choose riders who meet the criteria such as dressage scores below 45, clear cross country rounds (jumps) and few than 4 poles down in the show jumping. All of this must be attained at events of 4 or 5 star level.

Blenheim Dressage

Ingham set a new personal best score of 20.5 to lead the event after two days of dressage. They also set a new record for the best dressage score ever posted at Blenheim in the events 14 year history.

After a season of ups and down, they had a blip across the country at both Kentucky in the Spring and the European Championships in the summer sandwiching a historic first British win at CHIO Aachen in June. Ingham wanted to end the season on a positive note so the team decided to head to Oxfordshire to sign off the horses 2023 season.

Ingham said after her dressage on Thursday: “…He was really rideable and soft, and I felt like I could ask for more from him than usual, because usually we’re a little bit on the edge of maybe a slight explosion. It definitely always feels a little more fragile than it looks, but today it didn’t feel fragile at all, which is a really great feeling.”

Cross Country

Saturday's cross country course created its fair share of challenges for riders, with problems dotted all around the track; from the 88 starters, 66 completed the course, with 33 of those coming home without jumping penalties, and just seven riders clear inside the optimum time of 10 mins and 20 seconds. 

Ingham knew she could only afford 2 seconds over the time (0.8 penalties) to retain her lead over fellow British competitor Ros Canter, but also in the back of her mind was ensuring a clear round to tick the Olympic Qualification box.

Setting off at a good pace, but steadying down for the tricky combinations around the course, Yasmin's horse Banzai Du Loir, still looked full of running as he heading for the last few fences, stopping the clock right on time to stay on her dressage score of 20.5.

Ingham said of her round: “It was really good round, and it was enjoyable — well, enjoyable to an extent! He picked everything up super easy, and was right on his lines, and he responded when I said ‘go’ and woahed when I said ‘woah’. It was really important just to have a nice, enjoyable, positive round today, and I think he’s done that.”

Also saying about the event: “It’s so nice to come to this sort of event, and it’s just a beautiful place to be able to compete — my owners absolutely love it and my family come and watch, so it’s kind of just about having a really nice time between all of us and enjoying the horse, because he’s so special. He’s an absolute pleasure and just a joy to have so for us just to actually enjoy him and have nothing else think about is really nice. I always just want to do my best and not let anybody down,” she says. “So many people put so much work into this; my team at home, and the team that come here, and everyone behind the scenes. It’s a massive group effort and when we have a good day, it’s everybody’s good day.”

Words: Jess Collister
Photo: Tilly Berendt (Eventing Nation)




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