Ruth Edge (GBR) and the 17-year-old Two Thyme lead the clutch of superbly executed Dressage tests which brought the first phase of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR), the fourth leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™, to a close today. However, Edge, a renowned exponent of this phase, has just 0.4 of a penalty in hand over New Zealander Caroline Powell, who scored a career best on another 17-year-old, the evergreen Lenamore, and defending champions Oliver Townend and Carousel Quest, who produced the only other sub-40 penalty test, are a further 0.5 of a penalty behind in third.
Two Thyme is only competed sparingly these days – his last Cross-Country run was in June – but Edge has prepared him specifically for his first crack at the Land Rover Trophy.
“He always tries so hard,” said Edge, whose previous best placing at Burghley was 17th on Marsh Mayfly in 2006. “He’s on great form and feels really up for it.”
There was plenty to excite a capacity crowd enjoying the sunshine and a succession of well-ridden tests.
The young Swedish first-timer Christoffer Forsberg sprang a surprise by slotting into fifth place, just behind William Fox-Pitt on his second ride, Seacookie. At 19, Forsberg, who is just a year older than his horse, Grafman, is the youngest rider in the field but he produced one of the most consistently rhythmic performances of the day.
Clayton Fredericks (AUS) declared himself “rapt” with his ninth-placed performance on his new ride, having leased the Thoroughbred mare Be My Guest from her German owners. “Everything I asked for she gave me. She’s not the biggest mover, but now I’ve got the bitting and warm-up sorted. You’ve just got to keep her sweet.”
Mark Todd’s return to Burghley after a 10-year break elicited huge cheers and he declared: “It feels as if I haven’t been away.” The New Zealander has only competed Major Milestone, a novice at this level, three times, but declared himself well-pleased with equal 29th place at this stage and, with 20 penalties – the price of a Cross-country refusal – covering the top 46 riders, it’s all to play for tomorrow.
Looking ahead, riders have declared Mark Phillips’ Cross-Country course a typically big Burghley challenge, where the undulating ground tends to make the optimum time harder to achieve than at the season’s other CCI4*s.
“It’s a good track,” Clayton Fredericks summed up. “You get lulled into a false sense of security when you walk it, but when the crowds are out tomorrow, suddenly the line that seemed so obvious before, will seem much narrower and horses react to that – you have to keep them going forward. It’s going to be a really exciting day.”
1 Ruth Edge/Two Thyme (GBR) 38.3
2 Caroline Powell/Lenamore (NZL) 38.7
3 Oliver Townend/Carousel Quest (GBR) 39.2
4 William Fox-Pitt/Seacookie (GBR) 40.3
5 Christoffer Forsberg/Grafman (SWE) 44.3
6 Mary King/Apache Sauce (GBR) 44.8*
7 Andrew Nicholson/Avebury (NZL) 45.0
8 Mary King/Kings Temptress (GBR) 45.3
9 Clayton Fredericks/Be My Guest (AUS) 45.8
10 William Fox-Pitt/Macchiato (GBR) 46.8*
*denotes error of course
Follow with live results and video streaming on www.burghley-horse.co.uk
Audio links of the three top-placed riders at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, the fourth leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™ are available at:
Ruth Edge (GBR) http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/BUHT%20Ruth%20Edge%20Dressage.mp3
Caroline Powell (NZL) http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/BUHT%20Caroline%20Powell%20Dressage.mp3
Oliver Townend (GBR) http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/BUHT%20Oliver%20Townend%20Dressage.mp3
HSBC FEI Classics™ Standings (after 3 of 5 events)
1 Andreas Dibowski 22
2 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 15
3 Paul Tapner (AUS) 15
4 Sharon Hunt (GBR) 15
5 Ingrid Klimke (GER) 12
6 Phillip Dutton (USA) 12
7 Mary King (GBR) 12
8 Becky Holder (USA) 10
9 Daisy Berkeley (GBR) 10
10 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) 8
HSBC FEI Classics™ Calendar of Events in 2010
1. 21-25 April - Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA)
2. 30 April - 03 May - Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR)
3. 17-20 June - Luhmühlen presented by E.ON Avacon (GER)
4. 2-5 September - Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR)
5. 4-7 November- Les Etoiles de Pau (FRA)
HSBC will contribute US$ 1million to the series over the next three years. Prize-money is awarded, as follows, to the top five riders on the leaderboard after the fifth and final event:
WINNERS OF THE 2009 SEASON
1. Oliver Townend (GBR) - US$ 150,000 (Series champion);
2. Dirk Schrade (GER) - US$ 75,000;
3. Andreas Dibowski - (GER) US$ 50,000;
4. William Fox-Pitt (GBR) - US$ 33,000;
5. Sam Griffiths (AUS) - US$ 25,000
HSBC, the world's local bank, is a platinum partner of FEI and global sponsor of the eventing discipline. As part of this partnership, HSBC is title sponsor of the HSBC FEI Classics™ and HSBC FEI World Cup™.
At the centre of all HSBC’s sponsorships is a commitment to youth, education and community. The Pony Club and HSBC have teamed up to create the HSBC Pony Club Eventing Training Programme.