An emotional Oliver Townend clinched his second Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials title yesterday (Sunday 3 September 2017), this time aboard the exciting 10-year-old Ballaghmor Class. Take a look at how the Yorkshireman did it...
Friday 1 September: the dressage
Oliver and the 10-year-old Ballaghmor Class, owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan, lay in a strong sixth place after the dressage phase on a score of 40.2.
“He’s a young horse who’s not established at this level,” said the 35-year-old. “He’s a 10-year-old and it’s probably very early for him to be here, but we have no worry ability-wise, and we have no worry with his jumping confidence, so we thought, why not? He’s still weak, he’s still babyish, he finds it difficult to hold himself there for that length of time, but I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Ahead of the cross-country Oliver added: “I have a lot of confidence in him, otherwise I wouldn’t have brought him here. Obviously I’ve got to look after him from a future point of view — I think he’s probably one of the best horses I’ve ever had or had for a very long time anyway.”
Saturday 3 September: the cross-country
The pair were last to go around Mark Phillips’ challenging track in the late summer heat — storming around to finish just one second over the optimum time, and soaring up the scoreboard to head into the final day in pole position on a score of 40.6.
“Ballaghmor Class is different to what I’ve sat on for a lot of years, and he’s come here and proved it,” said Oliver.
“I’ve been saying it all week, probably to convince myself more than anyone else, that it is the right thing. A few people told me I shouldn’t have brought him here, and I just thought what am I listening to these people for, because I know horses and I know what he can cope with.
“Obviously tomorrow is another day but what he’s learnt out there and how he’ll come on for being at Burghley is going to be hopefully very exciting.”
Sunday 4 September: the showjumping
With just one fence in hand for Oliver, the crowds held their breath on the final day of the competition, as he vied to claim his second Burghley title, last taking it in 2009 with on Carousel Quest. It went down to the wire as he had one fence down and a time-fault, but it was enough to seal the win ahead of Piggy French.
“A lot of things needed to go right for him to produce this result,” said Oliver. “His dressage is probably the greenest phase — he’s only just learning about flying changes and things. With the cross-country I gave him time to warm into the course, but when I said ‘go’ he responded fantastically, and then with the showjumping you’d be more worried about the crowds, but he’s a very good jumper and he’s proved how good he is today.”