After the first day of dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2019 it is local girl and 5* first timer, Eliza Stoddart riding Priors Park Opposition Free that sits in first position overnight.
The British combination posted a score of 28.7, with no less than four 10’s by the end of the test, to sit ahead of Sarah Bullimore and Tim Price who sit in joint second riding Reve Du Rouet and Bango respectively on a score of 29.6.
“I was really confident in his ability,” Eliza said of the 11 year old British bred gelding, “I know most of the press considered us outsiders but I was very hopeful that he’d do a great test and we’d be sat inside the top 15 after dressage. But to be sat in first place overnight, that is just mind boggling and overwhelming!” She smiled.
The 27-year-old lives just 20 minutes away from the event and has previously been based with Pippa Funnel and Oliver Townend. Currently she trains with Holly Woodhead for dressage (daughter of leading dressage trainer Ian Woodhead) and Team GBR trainer Chris Bartle for cross country.
Reigning Burghley champion, New Zealand’s Tim Price was thrilled with the performance of the 13 year old Irish Sports Horse gelding, “for four years now I’ve been trying to get him to produce the work he does at home,” Tim said, “usually he gets very brittle and tense but today he was mellow and really worked for me.”
Britain’s Sarah Bullimore and Reve Du Rouet have put themselves in a good position to better their fourth placed result here last year. “He could get really upset in the past but all of that is behind us now and he’s much more settled,” Sarah said of the Oldenburg gelding who can be tricky to manage in the dressage arena. The 15 year old gelding is attending Burghley for the fifth time and so is well prepared for the imposing cross country test waiting for the riders on Saturday.
Less prepared Eliza and the Fleetwater Opposition gelding are heading out on a 5* course for the first time on Saturday but she is surrounding herself with all the support she can find. “I walked the course this afternoon with Piggy [French] and Pippa [Funnell] and it was actually really good to get a rider perspective on it as well as a trainer’s one.”
Both Bullimore and Price are Burghley Stalwarts having competed here six times a piece and the riders are equally respectful of the course. “You know you’re definitely at Burghely,” Sarah said of the track with which Tim agreed, “it’s certainly a front heavy course but it’s big and bold so you can attack it.”
Tomorrow’s field looks set to disrupt the current leaderboard, with Piggy French set to tread the boards with her current Badminton winner, Vanir Kamira as well as Oliver Townend partnering his Burghley 2017 winner, Ballaghmore Class.