Stamford, England - On a day when quick clear rounds were at a premium, Sinead Halpin (Oldwick, NJ) proved that she is amongst the best in the sport as she maintained her dressage lead at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Halpin is competing at the historic event on a Land Rover Training and Competition Grant and has spent the summer honing her skills in England as part of the program.
Captain Mark Phillip's demanding cross country track caught out many of the top names in the sport but proved to be no issue for Halpin and Carraig, LLC's Manior de Carneville. The classy 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding easily cruised around finishing with one of only four double clear rounds.
Halpin was immensely proud of the gelding who is making a return trip to The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials after having come 15th in 2011. She also believes his natural way of going was essential to her making the time on Saturday.
"He's a super horse, he's wonderful to have here because he doesn't pull ever. Every fences you're saving yourself two seconds instead of over-preparing and then going as fast as you can; I just think about keeping everything smooth and making sure I still have a horse underneath me," said 30-year-old Halpin. "He was with me the whole time which is a good feeling."
Halpin remained focused on the task at hand and did not let the atmosphere of the annual CCI4* or early trouble distract her. "I went there like it was my job, which actually it is. I watched one or two rounds this morning to make sure everything was going to plan and then just tried to occupy myself back at the barn." The pair heads into Sunday's Show Jumping phase with a five point lead over New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson and Avebury.
Allison Springer (Upperville, VA) and Carole and William Springer's 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse Cross gelding Arthur are also competing at Burghley thanks to a Land Rover Training and Competition Grant. The pair added 9.2 time faults to their second-place dressage score in a determined effort from Springer. They head into Sunday standing in seventh place on a score of 49.2.
California's Kristi Nunnick had a good trip around her first Burghley with the 11-year-old Holsteiner mare R-Star and they currently stand 32nd. A circle between elements in the Rolex Combination accounted for some of their 30.4 time faults but allowed them to finish without any jumping penalties.
Also riding in her first Burghley, Kate Hicks completed a tactfully clear jumping round with her 17-year-old Thoroughbred Cross gelding Belmont. They head into the Show Jumping in 49th on a score of 102.4 after collecting 52.4 time faults.
Erin Sylvester was the first U.S. rider of the day and collected 20 penalties for a run-out at the Rolex Combination but finished without further incident on her own her 12-year-old Thoroughbred/Dutch Warmblood gelding No Boundaries. They stand 55th on 114.2.
Will Faudree (Hoffman, NC), who is also a grant recipient, was the only U.S. rider not to complete the course as a result of parting company with Jennifer Mosing's 11-year-old Irish Thoroughbred mare Andromaque at fence 19, the Land Rover Dairy Farm. Both horse and rider were unhurt.
The Final Horse Inspection will begin at 9:00am local time with the Show Jumping phase beginning at 10:30am.
Visit The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials website here.
Watch the competition unfold on Burghley TV with video on demand posted shortly after the completion of each ride at http://burghley.tv/
Follow the 2012 Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team here.
Photo: Sinead Halpin and Manior De Carneville (Shannon Brinkman)