The second of Tim Price’s three rides at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials dressage phase opened proceedings on day two (Friday, 2 September) with a scintillating display. Vitali scored 21.3, the third best test of all time at Burghley, to move ahead of the overnight leader Sarah Bullimore and Corouet.
The 12-year-old produced a beautifully soft and harmonious test with no mistakes to reap the high scores. Although it was not hugely extravagant, this bright and athletic horse made every movement look easy, with fabulous self-carriage and an active hindleg.
“I know he’s capable of that kind of score, but for him to put it together and stay with me is exceptional,” said Tim. “He’s a funny horse because when he’s good he can be like that, but when he’s nervy there’s nothing there. But when he’s with me in the warm-up, he normally delivers and so I was pleased he was able to do that here on a big stage with plenty to put him off. Today I was able to stay soft and enjoy it and produce such a harmonious test – and it was good fun.”
It was Tim’s personal best dressage score at five-star.
“Because the horse is capable it’s on me to bring it out of him, he could do a nine everywhere,” said Tim of the Giannamores’ Contender x Heraldik gelding. “But I’m not a dressage rider; I just gallop around jumps quite well sometimes.”
Burghley Horse Trials dressage: Townend presses the leaders
It was a hard act to follow for Oliver Townend and the first of his two rides, Tregilder, and he gave a wry smile as Tim’s fabulous score was announced. But he kicked off with a nine for his first halt on the rangy Concorde gelding. Tregilder is a big horse with naturally low head-carriage, but he remained active yet calm, with Oliver conjuring up an accurate and polished performance.
The scores flashed up as consistent sevens and eights bar the first flying change, which let him down when Tregilder was late behind and scored a three, but he made up with it with eights for the later ones. They scored 27.5 to slot into fifth.
“I’m very happy with him, happy and proud,” said Oliver. “That’s plenty close enough to the leaders. I’ve had the horse since he was four; his owners [the Hazeldines] have been with me for 15 years and it’s been a long journey of loyal support to get a horse back to this level.
“And he was bred down the road by Preci Spark who have done so much for our sport. It’s really special to get him here.”
Oliver is looking forward to the cross-country challenge.
“I’ve had a lot of good experiences at Burghley and around Derek di Grazia’s courses,” he said. “I think he’s one of the best in the world, and this is one of the most special five-stars, so it’s fantastic to have [Derek course designing] on home turf.”
Tim and Oliver will reappear between the white boards as the final two riders of the day, on Polystar I and Swallow Springs respectively.
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