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Wednesday, September 02, 2009  •  18:40 BST

Laura Shears & WULSTAN ROCK ON winners of the Best Turned out rider at the first vet inspection

Laura Shears & WULSTAN ROCK ON winners of the Best Turned out rider at the first vet inspection

EIGHTY COMPETE FOR LAND ROVER TROPHY

The 2009 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials are now underway and after the first horse inspection eighty combinations are now in contention for the Land Rover perpetual challenge trophy.
The Ground jury of: David Lee (President – IRL), Sue Baxter (GBR) and Roeli Bril (NED) assessed the horses this evening. Both Zin Zan III (no. 41) the ride of Rodney Powell (GBR) and Birthday Night (no. 88) the ride of Georgie Spence (GBR) were held and eliminated after re-inspection. Twenty-year-old Georgie, who will again be the youngest rider, has Running Brook (no. 4) in contention.

Twenty-three year old Laura Shears from Warwickshire was voted the best turned out rider at the inspection winning a prize from turn-out sponsors Goresbridge Horse Sales. Laura rides Wulstan Rock On one of seven mares in the competition.

Nine riders have two horses including British European team member William Fox-Pitt who will be vying for his third consecutive and record sixth victory at Burghley. This year he brings Macchiato, last years Luhmuhlen winner who was fifth at Badminton in the spring and the German-bred Seacookie. It will be a first time round Capt. Mark Phillips Burghley course for both of them. A win or high placing would also give William more points in the HSBC FEI Classics ™ standings, before the final event in the series at Pau. Badminton winner Oliver Townend currently heads the standings – but is just one point ahead of William. Oliver, who is also a member of this year’s British European team, will not ride his dressage test until later on Friday afternoon with the grey Carousel Quest, his only ride this year.

New Zealander Andrew Nicholson, also a former winner, has the Spanish-bred full brothers Armada and Nereo. While others have tried, as yet no rider has managed to achieve the feat of completing on full-brothers in the same year. British rider Harry Meade also has two horses including the evergreen cross-country specialist Midnight Dazzler who at 19-years is the oldest horse in the field.

It is 16 years since an American rider – Stephen Bradley in 1993 – last won Burghley. This year a contingent of nine riders have made the trip across the Atlantic – seven including experienced riders Phillip Dutton (Truluck) and Karen O’Connor (Mandiba) are representing America and two first timers, Kyle Carter (Madison Park) and Diana Burnett (Manny) Canada.

Sharon Hunt and Tankers Town, who have withdrawn from the competition, will be the ‘guinea pig’ dressage rider at 09.00 and the first competitive rider will be New Zealander Annabel Wigley and Black Drum and the last on Thursday will be American Missy Ransenhousen and Critical Decision at 16.30.