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Thursday, September 04, 2008  •  18:02 GMT

Oliver Townend riding FLINT CURTIS

Oliver Townend riding FLINT CURTIS


British rider Oliver Townend and the grey Flint Curtis are at the top of the leader board at the end of the first day of The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

Twenty-five-year-old Oliver and Flint Curtis, who is owned by his Lincolnshire based breeders Edward and Robert Nicholson from Louth who stood his sire William Curtis, missed out on selection for the Olympics and stood down from the reserve position. “We were disappointed not to make the squad for the Olympics so we made the decision to aim for Burghley instead and so far so good,” said Oliver who is based in nearby Leicestershire. “He has been in great form and felt really relaxed and rideable and produced what is probably his best test he’s ever done at the level.”

William Fox-Pitt’s former Burghley winner Ballincoola made several mistakes in his test but made up for the errors with some fluent work to end the day in second place just under three penalties behind the leaders. “His test was rather middle of the road today – he has been better and at times worse. But unfortunately he threw away marks which is frustrating but then produced some tidy work,” said William who is having his last ride on the 16-year-old who is going to owner’s son Fergus Payne to compete in Young Riders.

British-based Australian Paul Tapner, a winner at Branham in 2000, and his Olympic reserve Inonothing took third. Paul was another to be previously disappointed not to make the cut for Hong Kong. “I knew after the mistake at Badminton that we would probably not be going so I had time to get over it,” said Paul who is based near Swindon. “But looking at previous Burghleys in Olympic year those that get left behind can excel and I am hoping to be one of those.”

There are of course several combinations tomorrow who could potentially head off today’s leaders.
Dressage commences tomorrow at 09.30hrs and reigning British Open Champion Ruth Edge will be first of the day with Mr Dumbledore. British Olympic team bronze medallist Mary King will close the dressage phase at 16.20.

The finals of the Burghley Young Event Horse for five and four-year-olds will take place in ring two starting at 09.00hrs.