BURGHLEY HORSE TRIALS: Todd leads going into the cross-country

Dressage action at Burghley.
Dressage action at Burghley.
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New Zealand’s Sir Mark Todd pulled off a foot-perfect performance to head the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials dressage leaderboard today (September 1) ahead of tomorrow’s cross-country phase.

His striking bay gelding Leonidas II floated across the arena, his trot work a real highlight, to land a score of 36.7, putting him ahead of Burghley first-timer Lauren Keiffer from America who was leading the dressage after lunch.

“He can be quite excitable and fractious in the dressage arena, but I feel this year he’s grown up a lot, and his scores have been getting better and better,” said Sir Mark. “He went in there and lit up a little but it was good because it gave him that bit of ping in his work. It’s one of the best tests he’s done and I couldn’t pick any obvious mistakes in it.”

Germany’s Michael Jung and New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson occupy third and fourth spots respectively, while Great Britain’s Tina Cook fills fifth after a smooth performance by Calvino II.

“He’s a super little horse, only 16hh, but he’s got the heart of a lion,” said Tina. “He’s just getting his strength and balance together now and it’s his time to shine. He’s so much more consistent now and I’m thrilled to have scored in the 30’s.”

Lying in sixth is fellow Brit Oliver Townend whose flowing and accurate test aboard Ballaghmor Class earned him 40.2.

“He’s a young horse and not established at this level at all,” Oliver explained. “He’s 10 and it’s probably a year early for him to be here, but we have no doubts about his ability from a jumping point of view. He’s still weak and babyish in the dressage so I couldn’t be happier with him. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him for tomorrow.”