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Saturday, September 05, 2009  •  14:48 BST

Sam Griffiths  riding HAPPY TIMES

Sam Griffiths riding HAPPY TIMES


Happy Times lived up to his name for British based Australian Sam Griffiths producing a clear round, in the time, to remain on his dressage score and head the leader board at the half way stage of cross-country day at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

Happy Times produced a surprise third place on his four-star debut at Badminton in the spring and came up trumps again for his rider today. “This ride is just as thrilling as Badminton – he is still only 10-years-old and hence he was a bit green on me at times but he gave me a great ride. I admit it looked a bit wild into the Trout Hatchery but as a rider I willingly admit to a miss,” said 36-year-old Sam. “We all wondered how we were going to manage the corners at the Dairy Mounds but they are riding much better than they walked.” Sam is full of praise for the German bred gelding – by the German Thoroughbred sire Heraldik – who he as ridden since a five-year-old. “He is the perfect event horse – he has a good mind, good movement and a lot of Thoroughbred blood – it is a lovely mix and if I could find another by Heraldik I’d have him like a shot.”

First day dressage leaders Phillip Dutton and the ten-year-old Thoroughbred Truluck added 5.2 time penalties to their dressage score and are currently in second place. “If I had my round again I would set off a bit slower as I went too quickly in the first half and therefore was running out of fuel towards the end – hence the time penalties,” said Phillip who was also at the top of the leader board last year with Woodman but had to withdraw before the show jumping. “A course never goes as expected – it is four-star – but overall I am really pleased with him. This is his first Burghley and it is a bigger than anything he has done so far, but he is a classy horse and a fun horse to have.”

Clayton Fredericks and the inexperienced Poilu, by the former HIS Thoroughbred Fearless Action, are currently in third after another clear round inside the time. Andrew Nicholson and Armada were the first to prove it possible and the veteran New Zealander has pulled Armada up from 69th place after dressage. “He is the most impressive jumper I have sat on,” said Andrew who rides his full brother Nereo later on. “But he is an exceptional horse and not one to measure the standard by.”

William Fox-Pitt retired Macchiato after a green moment at the Leaf Pit (fence 3) which was followed by an early refusal at the Land Rover Discovery Valley (fence 6) which has so far proved an influential fence. He is soon out on course on his second horse Seacookie with who he was in eighth place after dressage and could challenge the leaders as could Andrew Nicholson (Nereo) Caroline Powell (Lenamore) and American Allison Springer (Arthur). All eyes however will be on Oliver Townend and Carousel Quest in one hour to see if they can maintain their strong lead.