An exciting day of cross-country at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials saw just over half the pairs finishing. Sixty-four horses left the start box of Captain Mark Phillips’ cross-country course and 33 crossed the finish line. Only a single pair – Badminton winners Piggy French and Vanir Kamira – managed to make the time, but it is overnight leaders Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street who stay ahead of the pack. Funnell added 4.0 time penalties with Jonathan and Jane Clark’s 11-year-old Irish gelding to sit on a 26.8 – just .1 ahead of French. Rounding out the top three is Oliver Townend and his 2017 Burghley winner, Ballaghmor Class, who dropped down one placing with 2.0 time penalties.
Lauren Kieffer kept her spot as the best of the U.S. riders but dropped in the overall standings from fourth to 11th with 26.4 time penalties on Vermiculus, Jacqueline Mars’ 12-year-old Anglo Arabian gelding (Sazeram x Wake Me Gently).
“I wasn’t as competitive as I would have liked. I would have liked to have been quicker, but that was the card we were dealt today,” said Kieffer. “I couldn’t ask more from him. He is 12 and just jumped clear around Burghley and hopefully, he will grow from that.”
The fastest U.S. round of the day went to Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan who were making their Burghley debut and only their second five-star start. Annie Eldridge’s 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Master Imp x Ardragh Bash) added 15.6 time penalties to move up from 48th place to 12th. They now sit just 0.6 penalties behind Kieffer and Vermiculus.
On their third visit to Burghley, Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 were determined to put in a clear cross-country round after being eliminated in 2017 and picking up 20 penalties in 2018. This time proved to be the charm for the 14-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Cromwell x Tens of Thousands) as they only added 19.2 time penalties to their overnight score to move from 46th to 13th position.
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z, the 11-year-old KWPN gelding (Zapatero VDL x Zonne-Trend) owned by the Deniro Syndicate and Ocala Horse Properties, were in an excellent position heading into cross-country, but a few long routes and changes of plan dropped them from seventh to 15th with 34.4 time penalties.
Lillian Heard is another U.S. rider who wished she could have gone faster, but she was thrilled with her round with LCC Barnaby, her own 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding’s (Guy Cavalier x Lady Tanjour) who was making his seventh five-star appearance. They added 28.8 time penalties to move up 34 spots into 20th position.
The U.S. trailblazers, William Coleman and Tight Lines, the Conair Syndicate’s 12-year-old Pur Sang gelding (Turgeon x Merindole), ran into trouble at the Leaf Pit and picked up 20 penalties for a run out at the skinny brush at the third element. They earned another 11 penalties for activating a pin on the back rail of fence 10, the oxer at the top of the Trout Hatchery, and 23.2 time penalties. Their score of 86.6 has them sitting in 28th place.
Chris Talley and Unmarked Bills, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Posse x Kelli’s Ransom), sit in 32nd on a score of 99.6. They accrued 11 penalties for knocking down the back rail of the oxer at fence 13 (the Maltings) and 48.0 time penalties.
Hannah Sue Burnett retired Harbour Pilot, Jacqueline Mars’ 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cruising x Shannon), after a runout at Clarence Court at fence 20.
Three of the U.S. horses fell on course but are all reported to be back in their stables and resting comfortably as are the riders. Doug Payne and Vandiver fell at fence 13, The Maltings; Buck Davidson and Jak My Style fell at fence 16, the second of the white gates at The Lake; and Savannah Fulton and Captain Jack fell at fence 20, the last part of the Clarence Court.
The final horse inspection is set to begin at 9:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m. EST) tomorrow with show jumping to follow.
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The spring eventing season in the Midwest is always a toss-up due to unpredictable weather. Will it rain, will it be sunny, or will it be a snowstorm? No one knows! Mid-America Combined Training Association’s (MACTA) first cross-country schooling of the season was cancelled in March due to extremely muddy footing conditions and by the time our April dates came around, COVID-19 was in full force and we were unable to host our cross-country schooling and schooling show.
The FEI has published its Policy for Enhanced Competition Safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at assisting organizers and national federations with the safe resumption of international equestrian events in line with national and local restrictions.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has approved additional modifications to the qualification period for the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The AEC is scheduled to take place August 25-30, 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and the USEA is doing everything possible to ensure a safe and successful Championship, while also ensuring fair opportunities for all.
This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).