Oliver Townend holds commanding lead in Maryland 5 Star dressage on 16-year-old Cooley Master Class: ‘He’s never felt better’

  • Oliver Townend has cruised into an early lead after the first half of the Maryland 5 Star dressage today (Thursday, 14 October).

    The British rider and the experienced Cooley Master Class, owned by Angela Hislop, scored 21.1 to sit 6.9 penalties ahead of the pair of US riders who share second place. This is a personal best mark at any FEI competition for the horse.

    Maryland 5 Star dressage: Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class

    Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class at Maryland 5 Star 2021. Credit: Shannon Brinkman

    The test that Oliver and the 16-year-old double Kentucky Three-Day Event winner Cooley Master Class produced was leagues ahead of any other performance today, showing bounce and cadence in the trot and flawless flying changes. The pair only had one mark below a seven and reaped a 10 from Mark Weissbecker at M for harmony.

    “He’s unbelievable, isn’t he?” said Olympic team gold medallist Oliver, who punched the air in triumph as he finished the test. “He likes it over here, he’s won two Kentuckys. It’s difficult to say 16-year-olds can improve, but he’s getting better and better.”

    Oliver explained that Cooley Master Class is an “old pro” who is not run competitively at one-day events.

    “We’ve got him ready for this — I know he’s older, but he’s never felt as good, never felt as happy,” he said. “He’s been fairly mad all week for him – he’s a lazy horse by nature, but he’s been squealing and messing about. He’s been a pain in the backside all week, and I said, I don’t mind as long as when you go in the dressage you behave yourself, which he’s done better than ever before, so we couldn’t be happier with him.

    “He’s a very special horse for the whole team at home. We’ve got him as fit as we can, as well as we can and he seems on very good form.”

    The other British rider in action today in the Maryland 5 Star dressage was the US-based Brit Leslie Law, who slotted into 10th place on 31.6 with Tre’ Book’s Voltaire De Tre. This was also a personal best five-star mark for the leggy chestnut, who does not usually excel in the dressage, but is a good performer in the jumping phases.

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