Tom McEwen and five-star debutante take early lead in Burghley dressage: ‘I’m disappointed with the mark’

  • Tom McEwen has taken the early lead in the Defender Burghley Horse Trials dressage, scoring 30.5 with Luna Mist, who is making her five-star debut.

    The 10-year-old mare, owned by Martin Belsham, performed a very elegant test showing a huge amount of potential for the future. Luna Mist, who is an elastic mover, looked fluid throughout and her entry with Tom was a highlight, scoring 7.5 from the judge at E (Nick Burton), eight from the judge at C (Christian Steiner) and 8.5 from the judge at M (Anne-Mette Binder).

    “It’s a great start and I’m delighted with her – it was very smooth,” said Tom, who will also compete Toledo De Kerser this week. “There were some great highlights and it was pretty much a clear round throughout the majority of test, so exactly what we asked for first time under this sort of atmosphere and pressure for her – she coped amazingly.”

    Their first extended trot was also awarded with eights from the judges at E and C. Their lowest mark was a five from the judge at C for the rein-back, otherwise they didn’t drop below 6.5. 

    “I’m definitely disappointed with the mark and I hope it’s not just a Thursday morning thing and they continue with this level of marking – it’s the worst thing about dressage,” stated Tom. “But her performance was awesome and as good as we could hope for.”

    Oliver Townend currently holds second with the 13-year-old gelding Tregilder. They also scored 30.5, but Tom sits ahead because his harmony of athlete and horse mark was 0.5 penalties higher than Oliver’s.

    “I was very happy with the horse as he is a huge and has a high percentage of thoroughbred in his pedigree, so dressage isn’t his natural thing,” said Oliver. “It’s taken a long time to get here but very happy for his breeders, Vin and Liz Jones at Preci Spark, and the Hazeldine family and the Mitchell Fox Group who own him and have been long-term supporters of me.”

    Oliver was marked consistently throughout, scoring mostly sevens and 7.5s, with the judge at E scoring him a 5.5 for the extended trot, which was the lowest mark throughout his test with Tregilder.

    “I’m very proud to have him here and very proud of his flying changes more than anything. He finds them difficult and all four were clean.”

    The USA’s Boyd Martin is in third after his Burghley Horse Trials dressage performance with the 16-year-old mare On Cue, who he co-owns with Christine Turner, Thomas Iv Turner and Tommie Turner, on 31.8.

    “Obviously you always wish you could do it again,” said Boyd, who was a little disappointed. “She’s probably got a little bit nervous in there and a bit tight so had a couple of small mistakes but all in all, I’m very pleased with her.

    “She’s one of my favourite horses and to come to this epic competition is just a wonderful experience. On Saturday, well, the dressage will be long forgotten.”

    Horse & Hound has a team of reporters covering all the Burghley action. To keep reading on our website after five articles, readers will need to buy a subscription. Visit horseandhound.co.uk/join to buy a Horse & Hound website unlimited subscription or, for great value, visit magazinesdirect.com for a combined magazine and website subscription. If you are already a magazine subscriber, the cost to upgrade your subscription to include full website access is minimal – call 0330 333 1113 to find out more.

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