Oliver Townend riding Noteworthy. Credit: Louise Siggers-Solheim/Event Rider Masters

Oliver Townend is in the lead in the Event Rider Masters’ class at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe, and is on course to repeat his 2016 victory.

Riding Andrew Cawthray’s Note Worthy, Oliver scored 38.7 to take pole position in the CIC3*.

Bill Levett is second on 39.2 with Shannondale Titan, and Brazilian rider Marcio Jorge is third on Lissy Mac Wayer with a mark of 40.

“He did a clear round in his test, but I still think there’s more to come from him,” said Oliver, who won the Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championships on the horse in 2015.

Intermediate championships

Oliver scored a fourth victory in the intermediate championships today with Angela Hislop’s Khoi Traveller, an American ex-racehorse.

Oliver Townend on Khoi Traveller. Credit: Stephen Sparkes www.focusonhorses.com

The pair were only 29th after dressage with a score of 33.3, but the jumping phases were particularly influential today and, despite a pole down in the showjumping, they rose 11 places to start the cross-country in 18th place.

The time round Mark Phillips’ cross-country track is always tight, and Oliver was the fastest of the class with just 4.4 time-faults to secure the victory.

“Speed’s a big thing at Gatcombe and he’s got plenty of that,” Oliver observed. “It didn’t feel as though we were going ridiculously quick and he stayed very well – I was impressed with him in all three phases today.”

Matt Heath was second on Hazel Livesey’s Sportsfield Lord Livesey, having led going into cross-country.

“I’m over the moon with him – he just got tired on very soft ground,” said Matt.

Tom McEwen took third on the mare Royal Roxey.

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Novice championships

Ben Hobday won his first Gatcombe title – the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championships – with his own Shadow Man II, having led from start to finish.

“He’s perfect – everything you could want,” said a delighted Ben. “He’s athletic, intelligent and kind; I do very little on him because everything’s easy.”

Ben Hobday riding Shadow Man II. Credit: Stephen Sparkes www.focusonhorses.com

William Fox-Pitt took second place with Catherine Witt’s The Graduate, while Hayden Hankey made a welcome return to the eventing ranks with third place on You’ve Got The Lux. Hayden was the fastest of the class across the country with just 3.6 time-faults.

“I didn’t have a single sticky jump – all I have to do on her is see a forward stride,” said Hayden.

Full report from the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 10 August