Oliver Townend (GBR) kept his head in a tense final jumping round at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, last leg of the FEI Classics™, to score his first CCI4* victory for eight years and head a British sweep of the top four places.
He 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.
“This is very, very special. Such a lot can go wrong with a young horse – and he’s only just learned to do flying changes – but he’s in a different class to anything else I’ve ridden recently,” said Townend.
Tattersall finished third, slipping one place behind Piggy French (GBR), who jumped clear on the mare Vanir Kamira to move up from fifth after cross country to the runner-up slot. It was a particularly triumphant return for French, who has taken a year off from the sport to have a baby.
“Our jumping round wasn’t that pretty, but who cares! Burghley is the toughest four-star in the world and to do well here is a dream,” said French (GBR), runner-up
Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. FEI/Libby Law Photo.
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.
Richard Jeffery’s track produced seven clear rounds from the 40 finishers, two of which were with time faults.
Land Rover/USEF Eventing Competition Grant recipients Lynn Symansky and Donner and Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie captured sixth- and 10th-place, respectively, on Sunday at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI4*. Part of the Grand Slam of eventing sponsored by Rolex, “Burghley” is known for its tough courses and competition as the best eventers in the world chase the title.
Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and Donner, The Donner Syndicate, LLC’s 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, placed sixth with a final score of 53.1 after the final jumping phase. The combination sat 11th after dressage on Friday with a score of 45.5, improving to eighth after cross-country on Saturday with a score of 49.1.
“I’m thrilled. I left points on the table everywhere really, so there is much to be improved upon still, but going into it, I’m just really happy with how he came out of it,” said Symansky. “I think this is a tough track – the oxers are tough spreads, but it flows quite well. The horse jumped a really good round.”
Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie. Libby Law Photo.
Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and Steady Eddie, Denise Lahey, Pierrie Colin, and George and Gretchen Wintersteen’s 14-year-old Australian Thoroughbred gelding, finished 10th with a final score of 58.0. Tied for 21st after the dressage test with a 48.0, the combination moved into ninth place just behind Symansky with a 50.0 after cross-country.
“[Steady Eddie] was definitely feeling the effects of yesterday,” said Martin. “He really tried his heart out yesterday. Today, he was a little tired and wound up at the same time. I am very happy with him though. A great result and great effort.”
Lauren Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) and Veronica II, Team Rebecca, LLC’s 15-yer-old Dutch Warmblood mare, were named the “Best First Time at Burghley” award recipients at the event. With an impressive and personal best dressage test, as well as solid performances in both cross-country and jumping, the pair finished in the 12th position with a final score of 66.0.
“As an experience, [Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials] is what I expected,” said Kieffer. “Burghley is big and bad and has a repetition, and that is why I came to ride. They did a great job with everything and it is a staple on the calendar for everyone.”
Finals results for all U.S. combinations can be found here.