There was a drama-filled afternoon of dressage at Burghley this afternoon, with a variety of good and bad performances entertaining a sun-soaked crowd, but nothing could touch this morning’s leaders, Andrew Hoy (44.4) and Polly Stockton (44.8).

There were some likely contenders, with Olympic gold medallist Leslie Law dazzling on Shear H2O, who scored one of the first nines of the day for his extended walk, but some distracted flying changes put pay to the top spot. If popularity could provide victory, Law’s rapturous reception by the crowd would undoubtedly put him in front, but the 39-year-old had to be content with slipping into third place.

The flying changes caused absolute mayhem this afternoon, with several 0s appearing at various intervals, as bucks, rears and a total lack of submission featured in some tests.

Youngster Georgie Davies, who is competing at Burghley for the first time this year with Welton Select didn’t even attempt the manoeuvre, dropping back to trot each time instead, while Jon Evans had started off promisingly on Royal Brigadoon, only for the horse to lose concentration after messing up the first flying change. Perhaps the cross-country fences in the main arena switched his focus just two days too soon.

There were some strong international performances, not least from Bill Levett on Minuto. The combination looked impressive at Badminton earlier this year, but two stops on the cross-country put pay to any hopes of success, and they withdrew before the final jumping competition.

Heidi White, who travelled to Britain with the US Olympic squad for team training at the end of July, seems to have settled well into life here, and looked very neat with Northern Spy. White’s compatriot, Gina Miles, was also looking good on McKinlaigh, until the pair came unstuck at the flying changes.

There was an impressive Burghley debut from Cressida Clague Reading. She and Volnay sit tightly in sixth place at this stage, and although another day of dressage tomorrow could entirely change the leader board, less than ten penalties split the top ten at the moment.

  • Two horses were spun at the first trot up yesterday evening. They were William Faudree’s Antigua and Sharon Hunt’s Gymcrak Fortune. Faudree was travelling reserve for the US Olympic team, and will be bitterly disappointed to miss this four star competition. Sharon Hunt at least has the consolation of a second ride here, her own Tanker’s Town.

    Burghley results after day 1:
    1. Moon Fleey (Andrew Hoy AUS) 44.4;
    2. Tangle Man (Polly Stockton) 44.8;
    3. Shear H2O (Leslie Law) 46.0;
    4. Foreign Exchange (Terry Boon) 46.6;
    5. Enchanted (Sammi McLeod AUS) 47.0;
    6. Volnay (Cressida Clague Reading) 48.6.