International 1-2-3 at half-way stage of Burghley cross-country: ‘it’s a tough course’

Swedish Olympian Ludwig Svennerstal has taken an early lead at the half-way stage on cross-country day at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

Ludwig and the 12-year-old gelding Stinger were the fastest time of the morning to come home 15 seconds over the time allowed of 11 minutes 16 seconds, giving them a score of 38.8 penalties.

“It’s a tough course as always,” he said. “Mark Phillips has done a fantastic job, it’s very challenging but really fair and you have a good chance if you ride the correct lines.

“I was very happy with my horse. I was a little bit slow, I thought I would pick up a bit more time but overall I’m very happy with my horse, he kept on fighting for me and jumped well around the course.”

In second is Sarah Bullimore and Reve Du Rouet on 39.6 penalties. The pair had a flowing round over Mark Phillips’ influential track, with the only uncertain moment coming at an egg box at Clarence Court at the Dairy Farm (fence 20).

The chestnut gelding took the right-hand flag and the combination were originally awarded 15 penalties under the FEI “flag rule”, however this was later removed by the ground jury.

The rule concerns whether a combination have cleared the dimensions of an obstacle and has been a key talking point in the sport in recent years.

“He is amazing — such an awesome cross-country horse and I trust him implicitly,” she said.

“He just keeps coming and he is just so scopey, keeps coming and looking for the fences.”

Pathfinder Tim Price, on his first ride Bango, made light work of the course — skipping home with 12 time faults to give them a score of 41.6 penalties after the first two phases and leaving them in provisional third on Saturday lunchtime.

“It’s a new experience [being first to go], I’ve never been in that position before,” he said. “It just meant I had to trust the designer and see things through his eyes a little bit.

“The time will be tight enough as that was me pushing in places and he is a fast horse, but I had to set up a little bit as well, which was costly, so it will be interesting to see [if anyone makes it].”

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Faults have been spread throughout the track, with the white rails at the Rolex combination at fence 14 causing problems for a number of competitors. The course builders have also been busy replacing MIM clips and frangible pins across the course.

There is plenty of action still to come — overnight leaders Pippa Funnell (MGH Grafton Street) will leave the start box at 3.23pm and dressage runner-up Oliver Townend, riding 2017 Burghley winner Ballaghmor Class, will follow shortly after at 3.35pm.

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