“She seems to like this venue. She performs well and actually breathes in the ring,” said Lucienne Bellissimo (GBR) after moving into the lead in the Galati Yacht Sales CCI4*-L at TerraNova’s The Event on Friday.

Earning a score of 31.5 on Tremanton, Bellissimo moves ahead of American Olympian Will Coleman and Diabolo (34).

The Thoroughbred-cross mare (Graffentolz x Trevia) is “quite high in Thoroughbred blood on the dam side,” continued Bellissimo. “Although she’s a naturally moving nice horse, she can almost become a little too tense in her test.”

Tied for third on 34.9 are Buck Davidson (USA) on Erroll Gobey and Jenny Caras (USA) on Trendy Fernhill.

Bellissimo jumped into the top 100 of the FEI world ranking’s this month, climbing from no. 167 to no. 78 after collecting top five 3* and 4* finishes in Leesburg, VA and Farimburn, GA last month on Dyri, Caitane Z, and Tremanton.

The Event marks Tremanton’s 4*-L debut. The 11-year-old mare has been in Bellissimo’s string since 2020 and finished third in the CCI4*-S at Fairburn two weeks ago. Their dressage score on Friday is just over two points off their personal best of 29.4 at the 4*-S level. She also leads the CCI1*-L division with Duke’s Jory with 28.6.

Twenty-three combinations advance to Saturday’s CCI4*-L cross country phase.

According to Coleman, the Capt. Mark Phillips designed track will be a fitness test and a mental one. “Some people think it’s easier on a flat course like we have here, but for the horse, it can actually be more tiring,” said the 2022 World Championship team silver medalist.

“[There are] some sneaky places where you could get caught on runoffs.”

International cross-country begins Saturday at 10am EST and streams on TerraNovaEquestrian.com.