Oliver Townend

One of Britain’s leading event riders, Oliver Townend has represented his country on a number of occasions and won at five-star level. He was a member of the British Olympic eventing team at the Tokyo Games riding Ballaghmor Class and came home with a team gold medal.

British Olympic eventers react: Oliver Townend

Oliver Townend is kitted out ready for the Tokyo Olympics.

Oliver is the world number one and was the leading rider on British Eventing points in six of the nine years 2011-2020.

Hailing from Yorkshire, but now based in Shropshire, Oliver started riding as a child and rode on the pony European eventing team with Cool Mule, who he also competed at Horse of the Year Show.

Oliver gained experience during three years as stable jockey to Kenneth Clawson, the late British eventing team showjumping trainer, before he set up his own yard in Leicestershire.

As well as being very talented, Oliver is known as a grafter who has worked his way up in the sport rather than coming from a rich background.

“When I was 22, if there was an event for which I had a horse which could possibly get to the end, I’d have done everything I could to make him competitive and be there,” he said in an interview in 2014. 

“I drove to events knowing I didn’t have the money to put diesel in the wagon to get home. I’d swap prize cheques with the entries lady for start fees so I had cash for diesel. You’ve got to win then.”

At the start of his career Oliver was renowned for running a large string of horses and getting results from less talented horses, but in recent years he has cut back and focused more on quality over quantity.

Where is Oliver Townend based?

Oliver bought his farm near Ellesmere, Shropshire, when he was 25 years old, making the money to own a property at a young age largely through successfully dealing horses – for example, he sold Land Vision who went on to win Badminton in 2011 with Mark Todd.

When he saw the farm advertised, he drove straight there in a groom’s “knackered old” Vauxhall Corsa, as his sponsored Land Rover was in the garage.

He laughs: “They must have thought: ‘What a waste of time’ – a 25-year-old in a rusty car, first-time buyer.”

What medals has Oliver Townend won?

Oliver made his British senior championship debut in 2005 when he rode at the Blenheim European Eventing Championships as an individual on Topping.

He has since gone on to win four European team medals. He took team gold at the 2007 European Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, and the 2009 European Championships in Fontainebleau, France, on Flint Curtis. He added another team gold to his collection at the 2017 European Championships in Strzegom, Poland, on Cooley SRS. His most recent European medal is team silver at the 2019 European Championships in Luhmühlen, Germany, on Cooley Master Class.

Oliver won team gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, riding Ballaghmor Class.

Oliver Townend (GBR) with Ballaghmor Class, at Oliver's stables at Gadlas Farm in the village of Dudleston Heath near Ellesmere in Shropshire UK between 26th September 2017

Oliver has ridden at two World Equestrian Games (WEG) as an individual, finishing 11th at the 2006 WEG in Aachen, Germany, on Flint Curtis. His other WEG appearance was at the 2014 Games in Caen, France, on Black Tie.

In 2022, Oliver was a member of the British team at the World Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, finishing 16th individually with Ballaghmor Class.

How many five-stars has Oliver Townend won?

Oliver has won eight times at five-star.

He won Badminton Horse Trials in 2009 on Flint Curtis and Burghley Horse Trials in 2009 on Carousel Quest and 2017 and 2023 on Ballaghmor Class.

Oliver Townend and Flint Curtis with the Badminton trophy

He has also won the US five-star at Kentucky Three-Day Event four times, claiming back to back victories in 2018 and 2019 on Cooley Master Class, a win in 2021 on Ballaghmor Class and victory in 2024 on Cooley Rosalent.

Oliver is one of only three event riders who have reached the milestone of 100 starts at five-star level.

Does Oliver Townend have a wife?

Oliver Townend is not married.