New Zealand’s Sir Mark Todd pulled off a foot-perfect performance to head The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials dressage leader board ahead of tomorrow’s cross-country phase.
Riding the striking gelding Leonidas II, the pair floated across the arena to land a score of 36.7. After his test Todd commented: “He can be quite excitable and fractious in the dressage arena, but I feel this year he’s grown up a lot, and his scores have been getting better and better. He went in there and lit up a little but it was good because it gave him that bit of ping in his work. It’s one of the best tests he’s done and I couldn’t pick any obvious mistakes in it.”
Earlier in the day, Burghley first timers Lauren Kieffer and Veronica II dislodged Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW from the top of the leader board earlier in the day having posted a score of 37.0. Going into the cross country, Jung now sits in third place.
Kieffer commented: “I’m thrilled. Veronica is such a professional now, she knows what her job is and when she is on a big stage. She loves to work and wants to be on the trailer when we head off to shows. It’s probably where she is happiest. Her canter work was quite good today, and her walk – we’ve struggled with those in the past. She is such a go-ey mare that it’s sometimes hard to keep it fluid, but this test really suits her and helps her along so I was really happy with her work.”
Andrew Nicholson and Nereo were another of the day’s sub-40 marks, and finished the dressage in fourth on 39.5. He commented: “He’s not a fancy dressage type but he’s lovely to ride and gives 100%. I can totally rely on him, he just gets better and better – though he doesn’t go like this at home, I don’t ask him to.”
Kristina Cook finished as the best of the British riders after dressage in fifth place with Calvino II, on a score of 39.5.
Cook said: “He’s a super little horse, only 16hh, but he’s got the heart of a lion. He’s just getting his strength and balance together now and it’s his time to shine. He’s so much more consistent now and I’m thrilled to have scored in the 30’s.”
There is a strong British presence in the top ten, with Oliver Townend (Ballaghmor Class) in sixth, Gemma Tattersal (Arctic Soul) in eighth, Piggy French (Vanir Kamira) in ninth and Burghley debutant Oliva Craddock (Billy Liffy) in tenth.
Photographs courtesy of Tanzy Lee