Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials 2021 are under way with a strong field of 90 horses in the feature CCI4*-L class after all the contenders passed the first horse inspection.

This first phase of the event, which is run by The Jockey Club for the first time in 2021, took place in blazing sunshine on the South Lawn on Wednesday.

All the horses were trotted up for inspection by the three members of the ground jury - Judy Herbert (GBR), Seppo Laine (FIN) and Jane Tolley (GBR), and the FEI (Fédération Équestre Internationale) veterinary delegate, Liam Kearns, who is also part of the Cheltenham Racecourse team of vets.

The “best dressed” awards, sponsored by jewellery company Hi Ho Silver, went to France’s Gaspard Maksud, wearing a patriotic red beret, and British rider Georgia Bartlett. The best turned out horse prize went to Valmy Biats, ridden by Emily King.

Dressage for both of the classes, the CCI4*-L and the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses started at 9am on Thursday.

An extremely high quality entry included two of Britain’s team gold medallists at the recent Tokyo Olympics, Oliver Townend and Tom McEwen, as well as heroes of the sport such as multiple former Blenheim Palace winners Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt.

Ian Renton, Event Director and Regional Managing Director for The Jockey Club’s West Region, said: “I think we will have four days of fantastic sport. The weather forecast is good, and I think the team have done brilliantly to get the venue looking superb. I’ve walked the cross-country course with the ground jury and the course-designer, David Evans, and David and his team have done an exceptional job to produce a great track.

“Ticket sales have gone very well and we will have a great crowd here on Saturday for cross-country. Tickets are still available, and will be on the day as well.”