Mark Todd is in the hunt for his sixth Burghley win and first since 1987 thanks to his leading dressage performance with Leonidas II. A score of 36.7 is a personal best at four-star level and the second best career score for Leonidas, a Holsteiner gelding (Landos X Nairobi III, by Parco xx) owned by Pete Cattell and Di Brunsden.
“He’s 13 now and I think he’s finally just starting to grow up,” Mark said. “He’s always shown ability that he could do a really smart test. So far up until now it’s always been spoiled by little mistakes here and there. Today he sort of lit up a little bit, but at no stage did I ever feel that he was going to get away from me. He listened and performed really well. It was pretty mistake-free.”
The USA’s own Lauren Kieffer and Team Rebecca’s Veronica sit just 0.3 penalties behind in second place on a personal best of 37.0. Lauren and “Troll” led at the lunch break (you can read comments from Lauren immediately after her test in EN’s lunch report) and now she is looking ahead to taking on her first Burghley cross country.
“We’ve watched it and studied (the course) for years. Burghley is a class of its own, and we know that. We respect it,” Lauren said. “I’m expecting a different feeling than other three-days, but it’s a good mare and hopefully we’ll have a good day.”
Michael Jung, who led after the first day La Biosthetique Sam FBW, now sits in third place on 38.9, one of five scores we ultimately saw in the 30s. The 17-year-old Baden-Württemberger gelding (Stan the Man xx X Halla, by Heraldik xx) won Burghley two years ago with only 0.8 cross country time penalties added to his dressage score.
“I think the course is very clear. It’s nicely built — a big, tough course,” Michael said. “The biggest problem will be the condition of the horse. You need a very strong horse at Burghley. The ground and weather looks very good at the moment. I hope it will be the same tomorrow. At the moment, I’m happy I’m still in third place.”
Last year no one made the time on cross country amidst a torrential downpour, but this year the eventing gods have smiled on Burghley with a promising forecast. With the hope of good ground, we are expecting several riders to catch the time.
“(Time is) always a factor here, but if we don’t get anymore rain the going is perfect,” Mark said. “It won’t slow us down. If anything I think this year (the course is) maybe a little less technical and a little bit more galloping than it was last year. There are 30 odd fences to jump and get in your way out there. I would guess (Michael Jung) will be inside the time and probably a few others. I aim to be as well.”
Looking to the rest of the leaderboard, Andrew Nicholson is another rider aiming for a sixth Burghley win, currently sitting in fourth place on 39.5 aboard this year’s Badminton winner Nereo. Tina Cook and Calvino II scored a personal best of 39.6 in the horse’s four-star debut to round out the top five. Click here for full dressage results.
One rider happy to be sitting on a good cross country horse is Lillian Heard, our final American pair to go today with her own LCC Barnaby. The 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Guy Cavalier X Lady Tanjour, by Rafael) made it very clear during his test today that he is more than ready to tackle Capt. Mark Phillips’ course tomorrow.
“He gets hot and excited in the dressage. I’ve been working really hard on it. I thought we sort of made some progress, but he did the test he normally does. This isn’t a dressage event, so hopefully he’ll be able to gain some ground back,” Lillian said.
“You didn’t see it today, but he’s actually doing so much better. He’s doing clean changes and can handle the work at home. Normally it’s the dressage that gets to him, but today it was the atmosphere and the crowds.”
A score of 58.0 has Lillian and Barnaby tied for 49th place, and she is looking ahead to tomorrow, where climbing the leaderboard with a clear cross country run would see a longtime dream realized.
“I’d say of all the things I’ve ever wanted to do, Burghley was at the top of the list. That’s why I came here,” Lillian said. “I knew I didn’t have a horse that was going to win Burghley, but who knows if I’ll ever even have another Burghley horse. It’s something hard to come by, so I thought let’s do it.”
We are sending the very best wishes to all eight of our American combinations on the eve of cross country. You can watch cross country live on Burghley’s Facebook page starting at 11:30 a.m. BST/6:30 a.m. EST. Click here for cross country ride times.
USA cross country ride times:
- Hannah Sue Burnett and Under Suspection (25th on 48.4) – 1:10 p.m. BST/8:10 a.m. EST
- Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 (47th on 56.9) – 1:18 p.m. BST/8:18 a.m. EST
- Mackenna Shea and Landioso (14th on 46.1) – 1:22 p.m. BST/8:22 a.m. EST
- Woodge Fulton and Captain Jack (60th on 68.9) – 1:26 p.m. BST/8:26 a.m. EST
- Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie (21st on 48.0) – 1:54 p.m. BST/8:54 a.m. EST
- Lauren Kieffer and Veronica (2nd on 37.0) – 2:02 p.m. BST/9:02 a.m. EST
- Lynn Symansky and Donner (11th on 45.5) – 2:18 p.m. BST/9:18 a.m. EST
- Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby (49th on 58.0) – 3:18 p.m. BST/10:18 a.m. EST
We will be running live updates on EN, so keep it locked here for your Team USA headquarters at Burghley. Stay tuned for Tilly Berendt’s massive course preview with exclusive commentary from Jonty Evans. Click here to catch up on all of EN’s Burghley coverage, including quotes and coverage on all eight of our American combinations. Go Eventing.