Burghley Horse Trials Oliver Townend in a Buoyant Mood Leading After Day 1 of Dressage

LRHHT 30 08 2018 Oliver Townend riding MHS KING JOULES during the dressage phase of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in the grounds of Burghley House near Stamford in Lincolnshire in the UK between 29th August and 2nd September 2018. © Nixonphoto

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials: Oliver Townend in a Buoyant Mood Leading After Day 1 of Dressage

Watch the video of Oliver Townend’s dressage. riding MHS King Joule test here…

By Andy Baber, Sportsbeat

OLIVER Townend was in a buoyant mood after beginning the defence of his Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials crown in style to lead the dressage after day one.

The 35-year-old reigning champion was sitting on top of the pile once again after the first of his three horses, Tom Joule’s 13-year-old gelding MHS King Joule, scored 27.2.

Townend, based near Ellesmere in Shropshire, is the current world number one and the reigning Burghley champion after winning the four-star event, one of just six in the eventing calendar, last year on Ballaghmor Class.

And having already performed well on MHS King Joules at Lexington in April, Townend is feeling confident about his chances ahead of Saturday’s cross country.

“I was happy enough with MHS King Joules and if he stays on that marker I’ll be happy,”

said Townend, who also won at Lexington on Cooley Master Class.

“It’s always obviously difficult going first in, but it was inevitable that was going to happen with three horses entered and I have no complaints at all.

“This is very different to Kentucky, but at the same time that was a real confidence boost for him and me I think and he’s been really good since. Fingers crossed we’ll continue on a good roll.

“I’ve walked the cross country course and it’s very undulating, very stamina-sapping and seriously big. Burghley is always big, but for me it’s the biggest one in terms of dimensions.”

Townend will now turn his attention to his other two horses, Cooley SRS and last year’s winning horse Ballaghmor Class, who will compete in the dressage on Friday.

He has plenty of company at the top of the leaderboard, though, with Sarah Bullimoret (27.3) and Harry Meade (29.5) right on his coat tails after the first day of action.

Sarah Bullimore (GBR) on Reve du Rouet. Image credit Mike Bain
Sarah Bullimore (GBR) on Reve du Rouet. Image credit Mike Bain

Bedfordshire rider Bullimore, competing at her fifth Burghley, said she was over the moon with how Reve Du Rouet handled the pressure, having struggled with dressage previously.

“He was fabulous and I’m chuffed to bit with him. He does hold his breath but actually for once he stayed onside and he delivered.

Said Bulliore,

Even when the crowd clapped at the end normally that’s his release mechanism to think it’s over and slightly bounce around and have a bit of tension release.

It’s great being in this position because while it does give you more pressure, because you want to stay there, if you don’t feel you’re in contention you go a bit off the boil.

You don’t want to feel like you’re here to make up the numbers and we always want to be in contention, so yes it puts the pressure on but at least we’re still in the game.”

Thursday and Friday’s dressage are followed by cross-country on Saturday and show jumping on Sunday at family-friendly Burghley, which attracts 160,000 visitors each year and hosts the top equestrians on the planet.

And while Wiltshire-based Meade, a six-time Burghley veteran, is well-placed heading into the cross country, he is not taking anything for granted on the revamped course designed by Captain Mark Phillips.

Harry Meade (GBR) on Away Cruising. Image credit Mike Bain
Harry Meade (GBR) on Away Cruising. Image credit Mike Bain

I was amazed how different it is from last year,”

He said,

I thought last year was a brilliant course and there were so many new questions you could just leave it the same and make a few tweaks.

But he’s gone and built a completely different, but also brilliant, course and I’ve only had one initial walk around but it’s dimensionally big, which we’re used to a Burghley.

There are a lot of big square jumping efforts which won’t necessarily create that many problems on the board but it will have an accumulative effect on the endurance combined with the big hills as well.

There are also some big combinations and I think they come very much in the first half of the course, so it’s about trying to get through those and then having enough left in the tank to get home.”

Elsewhere, fellow Brit Piggy French is just 0.4 of a penalty point behind Meade on 29.9 riding last year’s Burghley runner-up, Vanir Kamira, while New Zealander Mark Todd is in sixth with NZB Campino on 30.8.

Piggy French riding VANIR KAMIRA during the dressage phase of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in the grounds of Burghley House near Stamford in Lincolnshire in the UK between 29th August and 2nd September 2018 © Nixonphoto
Piggy French riding VANIR KAMIRA during the dressage phase of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. © Nixonphoto

Other notable results saw Tim Price finish close behind his Kiwi compatriot on 32.1, which leaves him tied eighth, with five-time winner Andrew Nicholson currently in 16th on 33.8.

Tim Price (NZL) riding BANGO during the dressage phase of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in the grounds of Burghley House near Stamford in Lincolnshire in the UK between 29th August and 2nd September 2018. © Nixonphoto
Tim Price (NZL) riding BANGO during the dressage phase of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. © Nixonphoto

The multi-award-winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials from August 30 – September 2 has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for over 50 years. For more information visit burghley-horse.co.uk

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