World champions Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir are eyeing a return to the Kentucky Three-Day Event after a solid run in the Lycetts Grantham Cup at Thoresby.
The CCI4*-S at the Eventing Spring Carnival at Thoresby Park was Banzai Du Loir’s first event since the pair were crowned world champions at Pratoni in September 2022.
Following the withdrawal of dressage leaders, Badminton champions Laura Collett and London 52, Yasmin and Banzai topped the field ahead of the jumping phases. A clear showjumping round and a steady cross-country run over Stuart Buntine’s beefed-up four-star track resulted in a third-place finish for the US-bound pair.
“I’m really excited,” said Yasmin, 25, looking ahead to the five-star this month (26 to 30 April). “Obviously, we’ve been before now, so I do feel slightly better about knowing what is to come.
“Derek di Grazia is a very good course-designer, so I think I’m going to expect a very big bold course like last year. He’s very clever with his questions, so I think we’ll just keep training. Having had a good run here, I think it would be silly not to be thinking positively into Kentucky.”
The Grantham Cup served as the pair’s prep run for Kentucky in 2022. Last year, the pair finished fourth in the Nottinghamshire fixture, going on to take the runner-up spot behind Michael Jung and FischerChipmunk FRH.
Emily King and Valmy Biats were crowned winners of the 2023 Grantham Cup, with Emily also winning the Polly Phillipps Memorial Trophy for the highest-placed British rider who hasn’t ridden on a senior championship team. Former world champion Ros Canter finished second with Pencos Crown Jewel.
“The weather has been a huge influence on a lot of people’s decisions. It certainly made me think, really hard about my decision today. But I thought the best thing was just for me to wait it out, see if it improved and how much it improved,” said Yasmin.
“With the weather improving, I thought it would be silly not to give it a chance, and it certainly felt really good out there. It was nice and soft, they ran well on it and they jumped well out of it.
“The plan was to come here and have our pre-Kentucky prep run and I think we’ve just done that nicely. There’s a couple of bits of ground that were a little bit deeper than others, but we just kind of stayed to the string and he jumped all the big combinations super and was just nice and confident. I’m delighted.”
She added that Rehy DJ, with whom she finished 10th and who shares the same owners as Banzai in Janette Chinn and the Sue Davies Fund, also gave her a great ride and is aiming for his five-star debut at Luhmühlen.
“[Over the winter] they had a really lovely long break in the field. They had their shoes off and were completely just feral. It was lovely to see,” added Yasmin. “Then they spent a couple of weeks hacking, water-treadmilling, just building up a bit of strength, then we started in the school. We’ve just done a bit of cross-country schooling at Somerford Park with Andrew Heffernan, who helps me a lot, World Class training with Chris Bartle and Dickie Waygood, and Sylvia Schorn has also been helping with the flatwork.
“I felt a little bit nervous coming here off the back of no prep run, with the open intermediates being cancelled at Cirencester and Oasby, but actually they felt like they’ve not been out of it all winter. They just dropped straight back in and felt really good.”
She added that the course was “exactly” what her horses needed.
“I think he definitely asked some really interesting questions – questions on what distances you’re going to choose, and the water was a little bit stiffer than it was last year,” she said. “I think it was an all-round good course. The horses grew throughout.”
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