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The week continued as it started for Oliver Townend who after a clear and fast cross-country round with Carousel Quest maintained his lead at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Oliver who gained his first Badminton win in May, with Flint Curtis, looked equally determined to gain his first Burghley title as he came out of the start box on Andrew Cawthray’s 14-year-old grey. Despite adding 3.5 time penalties, for being eight seconds over the optimum time of 10minutes and 30 seconds, the pair had the advantage of a five penalty comfort zone after their superior dressage test put them well ahead of the field. “He spends time in the air over his fences and needs looking after a bit and setting up for his fences at times which is probably why we didn’t make the time but I’m very happy with the outcome,” said Oliver who admitted he had spent most of the day sleeping. “Everytime I woke up and stuck my head out of the window I heard yet another rider had had a run out at Fence 6 (Discovery Valley) so I changed my plan which is why it might not have looked pretty but at least it was clear.” The combination now has the comparative luxury of a fence in hand for tomorrow’s show jumping. “I’ve only done one three-day event on him – Lexington – and he had one down. But he is an event horse and hopefully if I ride him well he has every chance.”
Early leaders Sam Griffiths and Happy Times are now in second place but just two penalties ahead of New Zealander Caroline Powell and Lenamore. Sam and Happy Times were just one of four combinations to come home clear inside the time. “The time was very influential today but my horse came home full of running so I am very happy especially as he is still so inexperienced at the level. He cleared Fence 6 really well and got us both out of trouble at the Trout Hatchery (Fence 8 & 9) so couldn’t have been better and I believe he still has a lot of improving to do,” said Sam. All things being equal the pair will have to jump clear in tomorrow’s show jumping to maintain their place. “You always need a bit of luck on the final day but I am quietly confident.”
In contrast Caroline and Lexi and Jane Mackinnon’s 16-year-old Lenamore are one of the most experienced combinations at Burghley competing at their sixth four-star event together. “He gave me a lovely ride and I can’t think of one place out on the course that he put a foot wrong,” said Caroline who was fifth here in 2005 with the Irish-bred grey by Sea Crest.
Phillip Dutton and Truluck are in fourth place while Australian Clayton Fredericks one of the five riders to produce a clear round inside the time fifth on an equal score with Polly Stockton and Westwood Poser who have moved up seven places after dressage.
Worcestershire based riding school intstructor Rosie Thomas and her four-star specialist Barry’s Best produced yet another four-star clear inside the time to move 39 places up the leaderboard from 50th to 11th. Francis Whittington was also inside the time with the speedy Sir Percival but was beside himself after the horse had an uncharacteristic stop at Fence 21 (The Cascade) just shortly after German rider Dirk Schrade fell off at the previously innocuous fence. “I just couldn’t understand it – he was cruising and I am completely baffled as to why,” said Francis who nonethe less is still just outside the top 20.