Five-time Burghley winner Mark Todd stormed to the top of the dressage leader board on the second day of competition at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Riding Kiltubrid Rhapsody, the New Zealander – who first rode at Burghley 39 years ago – put yesterday’s errors of course behind him for a polished performance on the 11-year-old grey gelding to score 26.4. Todd’s first ride NZB Campino goes into cross country lying in 12th position.
Todd, who last won at Burghley in 1999 with Diamond Hall Red commented of today’s test: “He has improved since Badminton and he went out there and did a really solid test. He is a real trier and he has improved. He had a little blip where he skipped in the extended trot but apart from that he was really good. I’m delighted to be in front at this stage but there is still a long way to go.”
Looking ahead to cross country he said: “The jumps themselves are big and testing all the way. From the Dairy Mound home Captain mark Phillips has been a little bit kinder but they are still big fences. But we have an awful lot of work before that – I can’t remember the last time we seem to have gone up Winners Avenue at the seven-minute mark and I think that is going to take a toll on the horses more than anything.”
Fellow New Zealander Tim Price swept into second place with Ringwood Sky Boy with a score of 26.9. His first horse, Bango, sits in 16thplace after the first phase. Price describes Ringwood Sky Boy, who has had since he was a six-year-old and once tried to sell, as quirky and a huge character, but says his experience played into his hands.
He commented: “It’s about getting everything just right and we did that today. I was really pleased – it might be him showing his years of experience. The cross country is daunting and you have to do a precision job in a rhythm that’s going to get you home somewhere close to the clock. There are some really key points around the course and it is very big coming home, just in pure dimension and it will be a test for the effort and also the time. We’re all here to try and give it a good crack and tomorrow you’ll see the cream come to the top, and hopefully we are there.”
British riders still have a stronghold on the competition after dressage, with six Britain’s in the top ten. Three of these places are held by world number one Oliver Townend, who was ‘unbelievably happy’ with his horses’ performance.
His highest placed mount is MHS King Joules, who was first to perform yesterday and sits in third on 27.2. Last year’s champion Ballaghmor Class scored 27.9 to lie in fifth whilst Badminton runner-up Cooley SRS is in seventh on 29.4.
He commented; “It’s a huge credit to the team behind the scenes – to have three looking like they did take a little bit of doing. I love coming to Burghley and I don’t really think I need to prove a point – I’m just here to compete and enjoy it. Of course, it would be nice to go well – it has a special place in my heart so to come with three horses I love riding is very special. The course looks it is going to be all about stamina. But all three are nice gallopers and as fit as we can get them so hopefully we’ll give each other our best jobs.”
Julie Tew remains the highest placed first-time rider at Burghley with Simply Sox, and they lie in 16thgoing into the cross-country tomorrow.
Captain Mark Phillips cross country is bound to be influential, and with 69 of the 70 starters within 20 penalties of the leader, any mistake is going to prove costly. The time of 11 minutes 11 seconds will prove to be quite tight and it will take a horse with stamina to get close to this.
Images Courtesy of Tanzy Lee