Oliver Townend won his second Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials title, leading a British clean sweep on the top ten.
Riding Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan’s 10-year-old gelding Ballaghmor Class, the British rider carried immense pressure, having sat in pole position overnight and being the last to go in the show jumping. He went into the final phase with a fence in hand, which he used up when a miscommunication at fence five resulted in four faults. He also picked up one time fault, but it mattered not as he stayed 1.3 points ahead of runner up, Piggy French.
“It’s very, very special,” smiled an emotional Oliver, who last won a four star in 2009 at Burghley. “We’ve had Ballaghmor Class from the word go and he’s a top class horse. I looked around the collecting ring and I honestly wouldn’t swap him for any other horse in there. It’s been a long time since I said that. It’s the biggest and most difficult four star to win and it means the world to me.”
French, who returned to competition this spring after a year off having her son Max, pulled off a faultless clear round aboard Vanir Kamira, to climb up the leader board from fifth overnight into the runner-up spot.
“She was fabulous,” said Piggy of Trevor Dickens’ 12-year-old mare. “I came here hoping for a top 10 finish – I’ve not managed to achieve that here before, and have more often eaten the Burghley dirt – so it’s great to be back at this level and up the leader board. Burghley is the toughest four star and it’s always been a dream to do well. What a difference a year makes.”
Lying in second overnight, the pressure was on Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul for whom a clear round would have resulted in a win, but they hit the penultimate fence to drop down to third. “So close yet so far. A stupid little touch of an upright cost us, but we’re still third at Burghley and he’s an incredible horse who doesn’t owe me anything,” Gemma concluded.
Tom McEwen’s immaculate clear round riding Toledo De Kerser pulled him up from seventh overnight into fourth – and gave Great Britain a clean sweep of the top placings. “What a horse, he was magnificent,” said Tom. “It was his third double clear at four star level and he jumped his socks off. I’m
so happy with him and excited for the future.”
New Zealand’s Tim Price filled fifth place riding Ringwood Sky Boy after a fence and a time fault showjumping added five penalties to his overnight score. “Although we had one down, that was like a clear round for him,” Tim said. “I reckon he’s got a win in him one day, just not today.”
USA’s Lynn Symansky and Donner picked up four faults to finish sixth, while a clear round showjumping pushed Tina Cook and her second ride Star Witness up the leade rboard from tenth to seventh. She also finished 17th with Calvino II.
Andrew Nicholson and Nereo clocked up 10 penalties to drop from sixth overnight to eighth, this result meaning that Nereo has now earnt over 3000 British Eventing points, a record, in his illustrious career.
Izzy Taylor and Trevidden, who had nervous moments in the final horse inspection when they were held for reinspection, had three fences down moving them from third overnight to eventual ninth, and the USA’s Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie had two poles to finish tenth.
Land Rover Burghley’s Event Director Liz Inman commented: “It’s been a wonderful four days of sport. So many people put so much work into making this event such a success and we are indebted to Land Rover for its continued support.
“It’s too early to say for sure, but the indications are that we have had a record year in terms of visitor numbers, helped by glorious weather. Now we start planning for next year.”
Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Amber Skelton, niece and groom of Louise Harwood who rides Mr Potts, won the Horse Care prize. The prize is awarded to the groom of the best cared for horse throughout the week judged by Nicky Green, wife of veterinary delegate David Green.
Amber, from Bewdley in Worcestershire, helps Louise on the yard at weekends and during school holidays.
“I’ve grazed him in-hand for two hours every day and spent a lot of time cleaning,” said Amber, who wants to become an equine vet as well as having an ambition to “compete and ride here one day”.
The runner-up prize was awarded to Andrew Rogers for the care of Bronze Flight, ride of Ireland’s Alan Nolan.
After leaving college with a diploma in horse management five months ago, Andrew began working for Carole Warren, the owner of Bronze Flight. This was Andrew’s first time at Burghley.
“Andrew is fairly new to the job but has completely lived up to expectations and is definitely not for sale,” said Carole Warren. “He has a genuine love for the horses and pays great attention to detail. Bronze Flight even had quarter marks every time he was led out of the stable.”
“I couldn’t wish for a better horse to look after,” said Andrew. “He is as good as gold.”
Photographs courtesy of Tanzy Lee