May 05, 2017

Christopher Burton Rides to the Top, Lauren Kieffer Leads the U.S. Charge at Badminton Horse Trials

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
Lauren Kieffer and Veronica are currently sitting in fifth place at the Badminton Horse Trials. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Six U.S. pairs flew across the pond to challenge the best of the best at the Badminton Horse Trials CCI4* in South Gloucestershire, UK. With 82 pairs having their turn in the dressage ring over the last two days the competition was fierce. Christopher Burton of Australia with Graf Liberty is leading the field on a 32.9 – the third best score in modern Badminton history according to EquiRatings.

“He felt a bit excited going into the ring but he just stuck with me,” said Burton of the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Limmerick x Lisheen Star). “I purposefully didn’t push him too hard at the start of the week – the first time I sat on him here was on Wednesday after the trot up because I’ve been known to overdo it on him, but he just went better and better, and to come out with a 32.9 is fantastic. I knew he had a good test in him, but didn’t necessarily think it would come out today, at Badminton.”

There were eight sub-40 dressage tests ridden in the field and the U.S. claimed one of them with Lauren Kieffer scoring a 38.0 with Team Rebecca LLC’s Veronica, a 15-year-old KWPN mare (Pacific x Kimbel) to move into fifth place. That score beat out Kieffer’s personal best four-star score by over 4 points.

“She was so good in there,” said Kieffer following her test on Veronica. “I thought I was just going to have to keep a lid on it because she has just been wild all week, but she is such a professional and got in there and put her head down and buckled down to it.”

Lauren Kieffer and Landmark's Monte Carlo. Jon Stroud Photo.

There is a new course designer in town as Eric Winter designs Badminton for the first time this year and there is lots of talk about tomorrow’s course. “She’s a cross-country horse and as long as I don’t put her wrong she is going to jump the fences, so I am excited to attack it on her,” said Kieffer. “[Badminton] is incredible. You watch the tapes when you are little kid and you always hope to get there, but you never really expect it and now I am here with two horses thanks to my wonderful owners so I am thrilled.”

Kieffer is also riding Landmark’s Monte Carlo, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Formula One x Glamour) bred and owned by Jacqueline Mars. The pair finished 18th at their four-star debut at Kentucky last spring, so are looking to use that experience as they are the trailblazers on the cross-country tomorrow. They are currently sitting on a 50.6 for 45th position.

Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot. Jon Stroud Photo.

Another Ms. Mars homebred, Harbour Pilot, is in equal 20th on a 44.9 with Hannah Sue Burnett riding. The 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Crusing x Shannon) is an veteran four-star horse and has had quite a bit of experience competing in Europe.

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

In equal 27th on a personal best four-star mark,47.2, is Lynn Symansky and the Donner Syndicate’s Donner. A 14-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred (Gorky Park x Smart Jane) who was a member of the U.S. Team for the Pan Am, World Equestrian Games and Nation’s Cup. The pair also served as traveling alternates to the Rio Olympic games last summer.

Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless. Kit Houghton/Mitsubishi Motors Photo.

Elisa Wallace riding Simply Priceless and Katherine Coleman with Longwood are currently in 58th and 59th on 53.2 and 53.6 respectively. Simply Priceless is a 16-year-old Australian Thoroughbred gelding (Waterford Road x Faux Franc) owned by the Simply Priceless Syndicate. KC Eventing’s Longwood is closely related to the current leader, Graf Liberty. Both Irish Sport Horse geldings are by Limmerick and out of Cavaliar Royale mares. Longwood is 15-years-old and is making his four-star debut with Coleman.

Katherine Coleman and Longwood. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Full dressage results are available here and the start list for cross-country is here.

U.S. Cross-Country Ride Times:

(1) Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monte Carlo – 11:30 a.m. BST / 6:30 a.m. EST

(15) Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot – 12:06 p.m. BST / 7:06 a.m. EST

(40) Katherine Coleman and Longwood – 1:26 p.m. BST / 8:26 a.m. EST

(50) Lynn Symansky and Donner – 1:58 p.m. BST / 8:58 a.m. EST

(60) Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless – 2:30 p.m. BST / 9:30 a.m. EST

(99) Lauren Kieffer and Veronica – 4:22 p.m BST / 11:22 a.m. EST

Watch the live stream here or listen to Radio Badminton here.

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