5-8 September 2024

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Record-breaking performance from Price

Tim Price and Vitali lit up the arena after today’s lunch break and produced the best-ever dressage score seen at Defender Burghley of 18.7 to take the lead going into tomorrow’s cross-country phase.

Friday, September 01, 2023 - 17:44
Tim Price Vitali DBHT 99300

Third here last year, the New Zealander and the elegant gelding, who is owned by Joe and Alex Giannamore, well and truly set the standard for what proved to be a loaded final afternoon of dressage and one which resulted in four new combinations breaking into the top 10.

“I’ve always known he had a test like that in him, but I can’t quite believe it,” said the world number one. “He’s a quirky little horse and there’s always been one or two little things that have gone wrong at the big events – which have usually been my fault — but it felt like a good, workman-like test and when I was in there I was expecting a score in the mid-20s, so I’m delighted.”

Oliver Townend proved himself to be the master of consistency, posting an identical score to himself on Swallow Springs with his third and final ride, the 2017 Burghley winner Ballaghmor Class. He currently sits in second and third on 24.2.

“It’s a strange but great position to be in,” reflected Oliver. “Swallow Springs and Ballaghmor Class are completely different horses to ride; Swallow Springs is very sharp and light on the floor, whereas Ballaghmor Class is more athletic and powerful. I’m happy where we’ve ended up score-wise, but equally I’m conscious that this is only phase one and there’s a lot to do tomorrow.”

Oliver’s duo lies just ahead of another of this afternoon’s combinations, Tom McEwen and his Olympic individual silver medal-winning partner, Toledo De Kerser, who slotted into fourth on 25.6.

This is a first trip to Burghley for Toledo De Kerser since 2019, when Tom brought him here as a 10-year-old and finished fourth.

“He knows what he’s doing now and he put in some beautiful work today. I thought his lateral work and changes were really good, but he was just too fresh for the walk,” he said. “I know Tim did a wonderful test but it’s still going to be very competitive out there tomorrow.”

Ros Canter and Pencos Crown Jewel, who were second overnight, now sit fifth on 26.9, while another of this afternoon’s combinations, America’s Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF, are sixth on 28.1.

“He’s a good old horse,” commented Boyd. “We’ve had an up and down year, but it clicked in there today.”

Burghley debutantes Grace Taylor and Game Changer put in the test of their lives to sit seventh on 28.9, much to the mock annoyance of Grace’s father, Nigel Taylor, who completed Burghley several times in the 1990s.

“I spent years trying to get a score like that here and you managed it first time,” he rued, tongue in cheek.

The cross-country action kicks off at 11.15am tomorrow with Harry Meade and Away Cruising the first combination out on course.

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