Americans dominate at the end of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials dressage with Sinead Halpin (pictured) and Allison Springer holding the top two spots.

Sinead is out in front after scoring 36.3 with Bernadette Cogdell’s Manoir De Carneville and being the only rider to break the 40-barrier.

“I’ve been working hard on the dressage recently and I’ve been a bit confused about what’s good and what’s not good,” confessed Sinead, who was a surprise omission from the American team for London. “I knew I was liking the test today – but to get [a score in the] 30s is a bit of a surprise.”

Sinead bought the Selle Francais “Tate” in France while she was working for William Fox-Pitt having heard about him through British agent Rachel Wakefield – who had not seen him herself but had been tipped off by a friend.

“It wasn’t love at first sight – he was a bit skinny and a bit funny looking,” she said, adding that he’s still a bit skinny. “But David O’Connor and William both advised me to buy a horse I liked riding and I did just like riding him.”

The Gaub son put his foot through a metal door straight after his purchase and severed his hindleg extensor tendon, which, as Sinead said succinctly tonight, “sucked”. But last year they were third at Kentucky and then 15th here at Burghley.

Allison Springer, who is currently second on 40, was also shortlisted for the Games with her long-term partner Arthur IV, owned by herself and her parents William and Carolyn.

“I had hoped for a more relaxed horse today,” she admitted. “A year ago he would have thrown in a bunch of spooks, but I knew what I could push for and what I couldn’t. There wasn’t a lot I could push for, so I just tried to be accurate.”

Today’s action at Burghley was very different to yesterday’s with many classy tests and horses excelling in the warm sunshine. Last night’s leader Ruth Edge is now 13th.

Clayton Fredericks was the first to really make a splash this morning and he now lies third on Michael Lee and Peter and Jackie Wallis’s Walterstown Don, a CIC*** winner at Burnham Market in the spring this year.

“We’ve worked hard on the dressage to be in this position, but after this year, I had no anticipation of what was going to happen,” said Clayton, who fell at the London Olympics when his ride Bendigo III was tripped up by his own overreach boot as he descended the steep drop fence.

Three riders are equal fourth on a score of 41, well in touch with the top three: recent Barbury winners Andrew Nicholson and Avebury, defending champions William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk and Germany’s Kai Ruder on the stallion Le Prince De Bois.

Tomorrow’s cross-country action starts at 11am and few would predict this will be a dressage competition, so expect changes to the leader board before the day is out.

Follow every phase of Burghley as it happens using H&H Live, our interactive written commentary supported by Baileys Horse Feeds. Review the dressage and join in tomorrow at www.horseandhound.co.uk/burghley2012live.

Make sure you buy H&H next week (6 September) for our 10-page special Burghley report, with full analysis of every phase, comments from dressage expert Sally O’Connor and former winner Ginny Elliot and more.

LAND ROVER BURGHLEY HORSE TRIALS DRESSAGE RESULTS

1. Sinead Halpin on Manoir De Carneville (USA) 36.3
2. Allison Springer on Arthur IV (USA) 40
3. Clayton Fredericks on Walterstown Don (AUS) 40.8
4eq. Andrew Nicholson on Avebury (NZL) 41
4eq Kai Ruder on Le Prince Des Bois (GER) 41
4eq. William Fox-Pitt on Parklane Hawk (GBR) 41