British riders top the leaderboard at the end of the dressage phase at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, with Pippa Funnell leading the pack on a score of 22.8 on 5* debutant MGH Grafton Street. 2018 runners up Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class lie second on 25.3, with Izzy Taylor and the 10 year old Springpower, marginally behind them on 25.6.
“I’m really, really delighted,” said Pippa “he felt wonderful in his brain both inside and outside the arena. I gave myself a good talking to last night after making a couple of silly mistakes on Billy Walk On and made myself get my act together. I just need to make sure I ride with the same mindset I did at the Europeans tomorrow – I need to get stuck in and be brave.”
Despite struggling with a back injury, Oliver Townend still rode a beautiful test on Ballaghmor Class.
“Although he’s been first and second here, he’s still only 12 and getting established at this level,” he said. “He was very relaxed – I even had to kick him on a bit in the walk but it’s a real privilege to have a horse of his calibre here.”
Izzy Taylor’s ride, Springpower, showed what potential he has as he strutted around the arena.
“He’s a very exciting horse,” she admitted. “He’s beautiful to look at which helps in this phase and has massive movement, he’s just not entirely able to control it yet. There’s a lot more to come from him.”
Lauren Kieffer is best of the 11-strong American contingent in fourth place with Vermiculus on 26.7, despite being one of a handful of combinations whose tests coincided with a short, sharp rainstorm.
“I’m thrilled with how he went because he hates the rain,” laughed Lauren. “He didn’t do anything super flashy but he was very consistent and didn’t make any mistakes.”
2019 Badminton winners Piggy French and Vanir Kamira and Hannah-Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot are tied for fifth place going into cross-country on 26.9.
2018 Luhmuhlen winners Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo are equal seventh with Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z on 28.4, with Jonelle’s husband Tim and his 2018 Burghley winner Ringwood Sky Boy equal ninth on 28.7 with Thursday’s leaders Eliza Stoddart and Priorspark Opposition Free.
Tomorrow’s cross-country phase is likely to prove very influential with riders consistently describing the Captain Mark Phillips’ course as extremely big, intense but fair. With less than 10 penalties separating the top 20 combinations there’s all to play for. The action starts at 1100.