Oliver Townend has maintained his early lead in the dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials today (30 August).

The British rider was first into the arena at 9.30am this morning aboard MHS King Joules. The pair scored 27.2 and at the end of day one, nobody has been able to catch him.

Oliver said: “I’ve got no complaints – his test was pretty much mistake free and I was happy with his behaviour and how he stayed with me. Going into the arena first is always difficult as the judges perhaps take a few combinations to warm up to the marks, but it was inevitable with me having three horses here.”

Just 0.1 of a penalty behind Oliver is fellow Brit, Sarah Bullimore. She scored 27.3 riding Reve Du Rouet, who has a history of being tricky in this phase.

“He can go one of two ways,” explained Sarah. “I can’t ever relax on him as his personality changes by the second. I hope and think his bolting days are over — he’s an unbelievably talented horse but also the most difficult to train. We trick him into schooling now and have been on hacks and for a gallop here this week.

“I’m chuffed to bits with him today though — he stayed on my side and held it together, even when the crowd clapped at the end.”

Completing a British one-two-three is Harry Meade riding Away Cruising. The 11-year-old scored a personal best at this level with a score of 29.5.

“I’m delighted with him,” said Harry with a smile. “I’ve felt all season that he’s been on the path to pulling out a big test and I’m happy the judges saw things that they liked.”

Piggy French is just 0.4 of a penalty behind Harry on 29.9 riding last year’s Burghley runner-up, Vanir Kamira.

“She was good, but it definitely wasn’t a personal best,” said Piggy. “She struggles with this phase as she’s not naturally built for it and she’s a very sensitive blood mare so it’s a fine line between getting things good and getting things very good. However, she kept a lid on it and we all know Burghley isn’t a dressage competition so we’ve just got to go and get on with it.”

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Georgie Spence sits in fifth on Wii Limbo with a score of 30.4 and Mark Todd is in sixth with NZB Campino on 30.8.

Both Georgie and Mark had errors of course in their tests, with Mark going wrong twice.

“It’s bloody annoying and unforgivable,” said Mark of his mistakes.

The second day of dressage commences tomorrow morning at 9.30am.

You can read the full Burghley report in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine (Thursday 6 September).