At the culmination of the dressage phase in the Land Rover Burghely Horse Trials, the Brits dominate taking the top three spots ahead of tomorrow’s cross country.
British team stalwart, Pippa Funnell sits in the top spot on a score of 22.8 with her 5* first timer MGH Grafton Street, “I didn’t expect to be in this position after dressage but he’s always been a good scorer in this phase and the judges like him,” she said of the 11 year old gelding.
The last time Pippa won a 5* event was back in 2005, and she took the title here once back in 2003 on board her Rolex Grand Slam partner Supreme Rock.
This combination, however, are an unknown entity at this level but fresh from her incredible path finder performance at the European Championships last week that helped secure team silver, Pippa is feeling confident. “I need to have my brave pants on like I did last week and I’m sure if I go out in that same mindset, we’ll be fine. I know he’s a first timer but you can’t go out at this level trying to protect them, you’ve got to attack the course with confidence.”
Sitting less than three marks behind is Oliver Townend with his 2017 Burghely winner and 2018 runner-up Ballaghmor Class on a score of 25.3. “two years ago he came here as a novice really whereas now he’s a lot more established and he was almost quiet in the arena,” he said of the 12 year old Irish Sports Horse, “he’s just becoming a lot more established and I’m really happy with him today and it was a very solid test.
Oliver is carrying a slight back injury at the moment but under treatment from Team GBR physio and doctor, he was showing his typical northern grit, “I’m used to being in pain one way or another but it’s improving all the time and I’ll go and walk the course again now to make a plan which I can hopefully stick to it.”
Hot on Oliver’s heals is his girlfriend and fellow British rider, Izzy Taylor riding another newbie at this level, Springpower. “I was very proud of him today, he’s quite green at this level, he’s only 10 and he came into the arena holding his breath a little but then he relaxed,” she said of the Irish bred gelding. After a couple of small mistakes, the combination still posted a more than credible score of 25.6, “I’m incredibly excited for the future for him, there’s still a lot more to come”.
The gelding retired on the cross country course with Izzy at Badminton earlier in the year, but she’s confident about their chances, “we’re at Burghley, it’s a big track, you’ve got to think from the beginning right to the end but hopefully he will come out and perform very well, he really enjoys the cross country phase but there is obviously a lot to do.”
In fourth spot is American rider Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus on a score of 26.7 and just behind her is best of the Burghley first-timers, Hannah-Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot, tied for fifth with Badminton 2019 winners Piggy French and Vanir Kamira both on a score of 26.9.
The cross country course is much talked about as the biggest Burghley track in a very long time, so we’re all set to see some thrills and spills out on course tomorrow. The action starts at 11am and we’ll be poised to bring you all the action, but ultimately hoping that all riders come back home safely.