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Saturday, August 21, 2010  •  10:15 GMT

CAN TOWNEND PULL OFF UNIQUE DOUBLE?

Last year’s winning combination Oliver Townend and Carousel Quest, is one of the entries for this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (September 2-5). Another win this year would put them straight into the record books as the first horse and rider combination to win the prestigious international three-day event two years running. Five-time Burghley winner Ginnie Elliott (nee Holgate) is the only rider ever to have won twice with the same horse, Priceless, in ’83 and ’85 but as yet no one has achieved the double in successive years.

As one of the 105 international entries received for this year’s event, Townend (27) and Carousel Quest will have to overcome plenty of opposition. Amongst those in the world class field of riders, representing 13 nations, that he will have to head off in his bid to keep the Land Rover Perpetual Challenge Trophy for another year and win the £50,000 first prize are; five-times Burghley winner William Fox-Pitt, his British team mate Mary King, a winner here in ‘96, double Olympic gold medallist Mark Todd, who has also won Burghley five-times previously, former World Champion Jean Teulere (FRA), five-times Olympic rider Andrew Nicholson (NZL), this year’s Badminton winner Paul Tapner (AUS) and twice British Open Champion Ruth Edge (GBR). Another win for Fox-Pitt, who has his four-star winner Macchiato and the German-bred Seacookie, would mean a record unique sixth victory at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials for the former world number-one. Townend has also doubled his chances of a second Burghley victory with the additional entry of his Tattersall’s HSBC FEI World Cup™ qualifier winner Ashdale Cruise Master, 26th here last year with former rider Emily Gilruth.

Three top-class combinations from Germany will also present a strong challenge and if either, Kai Ruder (Le Prince Des Bois), Dirk Schrade (Gadget de la Cere) or Marina Kohncke (Calma Schelly) is successful they would be the first winner to represent their country in the 49 years since the trials began.

While the event attracts many of the world’s most experienced riders several up and coming combinations will be attempting to complete Captain Mark Phillip’s famous three-mile cross-country course of 30 specifically designed fences for the first time. These include this year’s British Young Rider team gold medallists Laura Collett (Ginger May Killinghurst) and Emily Llewellyn (Pardon Me II), while Aistis Vitkaukas (AKs Galopper) will be the first ever rider to represent Lithuania and British-based Alex Hua Tian (Magenta) the first to represent China.

The gates to the park open on Thursday morning 7.30 am when the competition starts with two days of dressage while the influential cross-country starts approximately 11.00 am on Saturday and the deciding show jumping phase takes place on Sunday.

On Friday the park is also host to the four and five-year-old national Burghley Dubarry Young Event Horse Final – the culmination of 19 qualifying rounds of the competition that aims to talent spot the equine stars of the future.

Away from the horses and sporting action the three avenues and six specialist shopping pavilions housing over 500 selected trade stands offer some of the best food, clothing, bespoke furniture and tailoring, crafts, jewellery and equestrian products from around the country that can be found in one place.