Sam Griffiths tops the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials leader board after the first day of dressage. The Australian rider produced a polished test on his experienced 15-year-old Happy Times to score 40.2pen. The medium and extended trots were particular highlights with the overall quality of the work being reflected by the judges’ high marks.
Sam said: “Happy Times is feeling as good as ever. We’ve had a great preparation for Burghley and a very good warm up for today’s dressage test. I rode into the arena feeling very confident and was really able to ride him in there.”
Fellow Aussie Andrew Hoy is in second with Rutherglen on 40.8pen. Rutherglen’s expressive paces were appreciated by the judges, with his extended canter earning the first nine of the competition. Unfortunately a few minor mistakes kept him from breaking the 40 barrier.
Andrew has scored a dressage mark of 34 before with this horse, but he was pleased with the horse’s relaxation today after a disappointing performance at Luhmühlen.
“Rutherglen tries very hard and he can get anxious if he thinks he has made a mistake. There was a lot of good work today that we can build on. It was a very good performance for him mentally,” said Andrew.
The international flavour of the top five continues with America’s Allison Springer and Arthur in third on 41.2pen.
Alison described her test as the best Arthur has produced at Burghley. “He was relaxed and very obedient. It’s a shame we only managed four-and-a-half steps in the rein back. I took my leg off as he can rush, but he stopped with his leg in mid air! We also missed the first change, which is an uncharacteristic error.”
The highest placed British rider at this stage is Piggy French with Westwood Mariner on 45.8. Their test divided the judges with the judges at E and C awarding 72% and 71% respectively, but judge C giving 65%.
“He can be a bit like Marmite,” Piggy told H&H. “He has not got the best conformation. He is very difficult to get his neck and his nose truly out.”
Tomorrow’s riders include last year’s disqualified Burghley winner Jock Paget with Clifton Promise, Andrew Nicholson and Avebury, who are aiming for a third consecutive win, and world number one William Fox-Pitt with Bay My Hero. They will all be aiming to knock this year’s Badminton winner, and live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, off the top of the leader board.