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Sunday, September 04, 2011  •  14:39 BST


Two eighteen-year-old horses completed the cross-country yesterday. Comanche the ride of James Robinson is currently in 19th place while Lenamore, last year’s winner and Caroline Powell are in 3rd place.

If little Lenamore – the Irish-bred grey is just 15.3 – can win again this year he will not only be the oldest winner ever but the first horse to win back to back Burghleys. Despite his relatively small size, he has proved himself the ultimate cross-country machine. The flying grey, owned by Janie and Lexi Mackinnon has also completed Badminton six times.
Known at home as Ed, he was bought by owners Janie and Lexi Mackinnon as an untried four-year-old with a reputation and still has attitude. “He was and still is sharp – he can drop a shoulder in a flash – and is not a ride for anyone – but he is not malicious and I am sure that is what gives him his competitive edge,” says his owner Lexi.

“He is a dream to look after in the stable but you cannot hack him without another four-legged companion otherwise he’ll come home without you. Walking him back to the stables after dressage or cross-country is also a challenge – it takes one each side to hold him and another of his other quirks is that he doesn’t do warming up before dressage – he’ll go straight from the box to the arena.”

Lenamore and Caroline were fifth after dressage and then jumped for fun around the cross-country to be one of ten clear inside the time to move up into third place. “He feels fantastic and certainly isn’t ready to retire yet,” said Caroline after her cross-country round.

This year was the ninth that the Irish-bred Comanche has been on the start list at Burghley – he has also competed at eight consecutive Badmintons. Comanche, by the Thoroughbred I’m A Star, has been brought through the levels by his owner, Herefordshire vet James Robinson. “He gave me a good feel all the way yesterday,” said James. “But it was an old fashioned track and probably suited him – we both remember doing them.” It was not plain sailing however as James was nursing a broken collar bone – sustained not riding but in a competitive ‘Father’s race’ at school sports day. “We got a bit untidy towards the end as I was struggling. I most certainly wouldn’t have ridden any other horse round here with such an injury – he owes me nothing.”

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