On her five-star debut, Grace Taylor held her nerve impressively to ride her talented 11-year-old Game Changer to a personal best score of 28.9 and slot into the top five on the leader board at the Defender Burghley Horse Trials.
Her result also meant she secured the top US rider position ahead of Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way who now sit in sixth overall on 29.4.
Highlights of Grace and her mother Ann’s Game Changer’s dressage test included their extended canter, where they received two eights from two judges, Nick Burton at E and Christian Steiner at C.
“Thank you, Game Changer,” said an emotional Grace when she left the dressage arena. “He never lets me down in the ring, and while I wanted that kind of test more than anything, you can never expect it. It’s surreal to see my name up there with riders I idolise.”
Grace has seen the Cassidee gelding right through the ranks. She sourced him from Annie Kirkham as a five-year-old who she credits for doing “a lovely job” with him at novice level.
“He’s been a wonderful horse to have in the yard,” Grace added. “He’s very reliable in the ring. He had a little look at the crowd when he walked down, but he got that out of his system early on.
“I don’t know when I will get another horse to this level so I will go out there and do my best on Saturday. We’ll see what we’re both made of and we’ll hope for the best.”
Second best of this session, behind Tim Price and his record breaking performance on Vitali, was two-time Burghley top-10 finisher Boyd Martin and the Christine, Thomas, and Tommie Turner’s Tsetserleg TSF, who scored 28.1 and secured them a fourth spot on the leaderboard.
The 16-year-old has previously finished second and fourth at Kentucky, and claimed world team silver and Pan Am double gold. The gelding’s test was consistent throughout, with highlights including his shoulder in and his final centre line trot.
“He’s a good horse though we’ve had an up and down year this year, but he’s a veteran of the sport,” said Boyd. “We had a run at Luhmuhlen and as he had a blip early on I coasted around the cross-country course; it didn’t take much out of him. We ran him once at Bromont three weeks ago and he won. We only had two or three dressage rides in a week preparing for this moment [at Burghley], and it’s worked well so maybe I should try this a bit more. Sometimes, the more you practise the more sour the horses can get; sometimes with these old boys easing off them is the ticket.”
Richard Coney and Poetry In Motion scored 35.2, after a strong run of 7s across their test. The Yeats 10-year-old is providing Richard with his first British five-star start, adding this to two Pau completions already on his tally.
Last year’s ninth placed combination, Liberty And Glory and Tom Crisp, nailed a final score of 33.7 this time.
France’s Arthur Duffort and Toronto D’Aurois scored 35.9 on their third appearance here. The 16-year-old gelding, 14th here last year, gave a good account for himself, despite a little tension and a keenness which should fare him well in tomorrow’s cross-country phase.
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