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Stamford, England - The U.S. riders made a bold statement after the first two days of dressage at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials slotting three riders into the top 15. The three Land Rover Competition and Training Grant recipients who have spent the summer training and competing in England produced top tier results in the first phase. Sinead Halpin (Oldwick, NJ) and Allison Springer (Upperville, VA) hold the top two spots amongst the field of 85 following the dressage phase after performing stellar tests on eventing's hallowed ground.
Grant recipient Halpin and Carraig, LLC's 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding Manior de Carneville, produced a personal best test scoring an impressive 36.3 to lead the field by nearly four points. The pair performed a beautiful, consistent test highlighted by quality trot work and lovely flying changes.
"I was just hoping to go in and ride the horse I have been riding at home. He has been exceptional at home and I have had to become more of a competitor in the arena and really take the work to the arena, so it just feels nice that it came out today," Halpin commented on her test. "He just felt good from the minute he went in there and it's nice to go in there and feel that you're on that horse and just take advantage."
Hear Halpin's reaction to her test and her thoughts on cross country here.
Springer, who is also competing on a Land Rover Competition and Training and Competition Grant, is not far behind her teammate with her own and Carole and William Springer's 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse Cross gelding Arthur. The pair produced a lovely test earning a 40.0, putting them in second place.
"I certainly hoped for more of a relaxed horse today, but Arthur is Arthur. He is spooky and a nervous-type of horse and I think the horse I had today, a year ago or before would have thrown a bunch of spooks in the arena, so I was really pleased," explained Springer of her talented but sometimes reactive partner. "I knew the horse I had going into the arena and I knew what I could push for, what I couldn't push for...mostly just trying to ride an accurate test. I was so happy to finish the walk though. I just wanted to finish the walk and start cantering in there. Fortunately, there are a lot of scores in the canter work and I think that's ultimately what helped my final score out."
Listen to more of Springer's thoughts here.
Third grant recipient, Will Faudree (Hoffman, NC) also had a strong performance with Jennifer Mosing's 11-year-old Irish Thoroughbred mare Andromaque. He piloted the mare to a 45.8, putting the pair in a tie for 14th going into Saturday's cross country.
Commenting on how he felt about his test, Faudree said, "I felt very good. I felt for where she is she was right where she needed to be. She behaved great and was rideable the whole time. I was very happy with her."
Hear further thoughts from Faudree here.
The other U.S. riders also had quality performances. Despite having an error of course in her test, Kristi Nunnink (Auburn, CA) had a lovely test with her 11-year-old Holsteiner mare R-Star putting her in 25th place with a 49.5.
Kate Hicks (Cochranville, PA) had a notable performance with Belmont, her 17-year-old Thoroughbred Cross gelding. In the pair's first Burghley, they scored a 50.0, good enough for 27th place.
Erin Sylvester (Unionville, PA) rode well to keep a handle on the tense No Boundaries, her 12-year-old Thoroughbred/Dutch Warmblood gelding, who proved to be a handful with chilly, rainy English weather posing a challenge. The pair scored a 67.0 putting them in disappointing 79th place, however they seem fit and ready to tackle the cross course course at their first Burghley.
Cross country begins at 11:00am local time. The riders will take on the notoriously large CCI4*cross country course designed by Captain Mark Phillips.
Visit The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials website here.
Watch the competition unfold on Burghley TV with video on demand posted shortly after the completion of each ride at http://burghley.tv/
Follow the 2012 Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team here