Oliver Townend leads after the Event Rider Masters (ERM) dressage at the Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials, despite feeling his test hadn’t gone to plan.

Riding Sally-Anne Egginton’s Cillnabradden Evo, Oliver scored 26.4, which gives him a margin of 0.5 of a penalty over second-placed Chris Burton.

“He wasn’t with me at all, but it’s nice if you feel like you’re having a disaster and you come out in the lead,” said Oliver. “He’s feeling very bright, which is good for some bits but not for dressage.”

Australia’s Chris Burton performed an elegant test with the syndicate-owned Graf Liberty.

“He can do a very good test — he’s nice and relaxed,” said Chris, who is the current ERM series leader going into this final leg. “It does put the pressure on when you put a series together like this.”

Emily King holds third with Jane del Missier’s Dargun on 27.1.

“He’s such a special little horse — he’s listening to you all the time and every year he gets stronger so he can perform the movements with more flow and cadence,” said Emily.

Laura Collett, who is second on the series leaderboard, is in fifth with London 52.

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New Zealand’s eventing power couple Tim and Jonelle Price were left jokingly wondering if they were feeding their horses too much when both Wesko and Cloud Dancer were a little over the top in the arena. Tim, who is third on the series leaderboard, holds eighth position and Jonelle is in ninth.

Ground jury president Les Smith admitted he “expected better” from the today’s dressage.

“We had some good work out of some, but the horses were fairly tense,” he said.

Full report from Blair in H&H next week (issue dated 30 August), plus complete World Equestrian Games preview.