British riders Oliver Townend (pictured) and William Fox-Pitt have had to make emergency travel plans to get to America to ride at Rolex Kentucky (22-25 April), due to the volcanic ash cloud preventing flights out of Britain.

Both riders withdrew from Belton’s Sunday classes, and headed to Spain, where flights are operating.

Oliver caught a train from Crewe to London and then the Eurostar to Paris. French train strikes meant he then had to take a taxi from Paris to Madrid. William caught a private flight to Madrid with the Hon Teresa Stopford Sackville, owner of his ride Cool Mountain.

Both are booked to fly from Madrid to Kentucky, via Miami and Atlanta, and scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning (Tuesday, 20 April).

Fortunately their horses — Cool Mountain and Oliver’s ODT Master Rose and Ashdale Cruise Master — had already flown out on Tuesday, 13 April and arrived safely on the other side of the Atlantic.

Not being able to get to Kentucky would have been a particular disaster for Oliver, who is bidding to complete the Rolex Grand Slam — awarded to any rider who can win Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky consecutively — and win $350,000 (£229,533).