The victorious duo — video of their cross-country ride is belowCredit : FEI Photos
Monday 04 September - 07h38 | Lulu Kyriacou, Ian Clayton/Press releases
This weekend's Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in England concluded with a nerve wracking day of veterinary inspections and showjumping which kept everyone waiting until the very last fence had been jumped before the winner was revealed. Oliver Townend maintained his advantage albeit by the narrowest of margins as the British filled the top four places, demonstrating yet again their resurgent confidence since the arrival of Chris Bartle. Watch their full cross-country ride below the article.
Piggy, Oliver and GemmaCredit : Burghley Horse
Townend (GBR) kept his head in a tense final jumping round at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials to score his first CCI4* victory for eight years and head a British sweep of the top four places. The experienced rider overcame a nerve-racking moment when the 10-year-old Irish Sports Horse Ballaghmor Class crashed through the upright gate but, fortunately for him, the previous pair in the arena, Gemma Tattersall (GBR) and Arctic Soul had given him breathing space when they had a fence down.Lynn Samansky and Donner got the best result for the United States in the final standings, in sixth. Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie were 10th. It was not the first victory for Townend at the competition — the final leg of the elite CCI4* FEI Classics Series — for the decorated Townend, who won both Badminton and Burghley in 2009 among other titles. The full results are here. Piggy French, who jumped in fifth spot jumped one of the very rare clear rounds over Richard Jeffry's course to put pressure on the top five and was looking as if she might be the winner when Townend crashed through the gate fence but he kept his head to win by one penalty. No one was more surprised than Piggy herself at her result. “It’s amazing, isn’t it? She’s just been such a good girl. I’m so proud. It’s amazing the difference a year makes — it’s amazing to be here and up the leaderboard. I don’t think it was that pretty but it doesn’t matter, the poles stayed up. These are really brave horses and to get them to respect the poles is a mission in itself."“Burghley is the toughest four-star with the terrain and it’s probably my favourite, as it’s so friendly, so it’s always been a dream to do well. It was surprising watching, really — it’s amazing — for her, for my team, for the sport. Not in a million years did I imagine this! I didn’t actually find it that difficult to come back; I’m still a very competitive competitor. I find the drive to do it quite easy. I’ve paid more attention to the fitness side than I ever have done — we had a personal trainer once a week which was hell but physically and mentally it really paid off.”Izzy Taylor who had survived a lengthy hold at the veterinary inspection, jumped in third but had three down on Trevidden, an uncharcteristically bad round for that horse, but their day will surely come.While World No.1 Michael Jung had to retire from competition after a rare mistake with La Biosthetique Sam, the German still won the overall FEI Classics title following a win at Kentucky and second places at Pau and Badminton.
Lauren Kieffer and Veronica, highest placed newcomerCredit : Silverhill Web Design
Afterwards, an emotional Townend could scarely stop the tears as he described his journey with the home produced Ballaghmor Class: “It’s very, very special , I keep crying! We’ve had him from the word go, and he’s a top class horse. It was up to him to do his job and up to me to do my job, and we both did. I was looking around the collecting ring and I thought, whatever happens, I wouldn’t swap him for any horse in here, and it’s been a long time since I last said that. I’m just desperate for top class horses, and I’ve had to play the numbers game to try to find them. I’m trying to cut down numbers now so you can see me perform like I did this weekend."“It means the world to me — I have so much faith in this horse," he continued, "and I’ve been blowing wind up him all week, so I’m glad he proved me right! When I had the gate down I thought, if you’re going to have one down you might as well do it right! I’ll have a look back and give myself a smack. It’s been a rough old year one way or another — I lost a good friend a year ago on Friday, and I’ve never spoken about it but everything shook me a bit.“With being such a young horse, a lot can go wrong — he’s only just learned flying changes and only just learned a lot of things, so everything had to go 100% his way. On cross country I gave him as much time as I could before I pressed go, and he was just fantastic — a different talent than I’ve been used to sitting on for a long time. In the show jumping he can still be a bit babyish coming into a crowd, but I couldn’t be happier with him. When he’s naughty, I think he’s just had a fright at some stage — when he arrived he was fairly wild and fairly rank and we’ve all fallen off him properly, but I don’t think it’s nasty. I think it’s a bit of fear and a lot of blood.” See the Burghley Horse Trials video of Townend's full cross-country round below.
Mackenna Shea, completed for the USACredit : Silverhill Web Design
Tom McEwen (GBR) riding Toledo de Kerser rose three places to fourth, a career best, with a beautifully judged clear round and Kristina Cook (GBR), one of the British gold medal team at last month’s FEI European Championships in Strzegom, moved up from 10th to seventh on Star Witness. This is Star Witness third top ten placing at a CCI4* and his third double clear at the level.Richard Jeffry’s track produced seven clear rounds from the 40 finishers, two of which were with time faults. New Zealander Tim Price was the highest-placed non-British rider, in fifth on Ringwood Sky Boy. America’s Lynn Symansky was sixth on Donner with one fence down Lauren Kieffer scored a time penalty but was still the highest placed newcomer. “Veronica was great ‚ she wants to be a careful horse, and she felt great after yesterday. It was a fair course if you rode well but it caught out little mistakes but there was nothing unfair about it. The plan would have been to win, but you know, it’s all gone to plan otherwise. Burghley really tells you about what type of horse you’ve got, you just don’t know until you get here.”Badminton winners,Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and the gallant 17-year-old Nereo were eighth with two rails down.Lynn Symansky (pictured above jumping Donner) said afterwards, "“He was actually jumping really well but on a tired horse, going into the crowd, he lost focus for a second. I’m just kicking myself in the pants because we could’ve had a clear round. You need to ride according to the plan of your own horse and have a cool head about it. I’m much more relaxed this year, having done it last year, and I’d love to come back. You have to rely on the partnership. When you can taste it, it’s pretty disappointing, but I can’t be upset , I’m really pleased with him.”Boyd Martin was also thriled with his tenth place on Steady Eddie.“It’s a brilliant event — one of the best in the world — so I’m very pleased with him. He had the last fence down, which was a bugger, but to finish in the top 10 is a great achievement and I’m really proud of him. He was a bit all over the place in there, yesterday really took it out of him, but it’s a great result. This is by far the biggest, toughest four-star in the world, it takes a special type of horse and a brave rider. It’s an epic event.”40 combinations came through to showjump. Savannah Fulton did not present Captain Jack at the veterinary inspection and Sarah Ennis BL Diamond Delux was also absent. Louisa Milne Home and Caroline Powell withdrew King Eider and Onwards and Upwards from the holding box and Dee Hankey's Chequers Playboy was not accepted by the ground jury.
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