Burghley Horse Trials: Townend sends reminder to GB selectors

Oliver Townend with Ballaghmor Class
Oliver Townend won Burleigh with Ballaghmor Class in 2017
Burghley Horse Trials
Venue: Burghley, Lincolnshire Dates: 30 August-1 September
Coverage: Sat 1 Sep: 11:00-17:15: Cross country - BBC Red Button, Sport website and app, connected TV and iPlayer Sun 2 Sep: 15:00-17:15: Highlights and show jumping - BBC Two

Oliver Townend has sent a message to Britain's selectors after posting three of GB's four best scores to open his defence of the Burghley Horse Trials.

World number one Townend was omitted from GB's team for September's World Equestrian Games but is the leading British rider after the dressage.

New Zealand's Mark Todd and Tim Price lead the event as Sarah Bullimore and Harry Meade posted good scores for GB.

The BBC will live-stream Saturday's cross-country stage from 11:00 BST.

Leading positions after dressage

Rider NatHorseScore
Mark ToddNZKiltubrid Rhapsody26.4
Tim PriceNZRingwood Sky Boy26.9
Oliver TownendGBMHS King Joules27.2
Sarah BullimoreGBReve Du Rouet27.3
Oliver TownendGBBallaghmor Class27.9
Andreas DibowskiGerFRH Butts Avedon28.5
Oliver TownendGBCooley SRS29.4
Harry MeadeGBAway Crusing29.5
Piggy FrenchGBVanir Kamira29.9
Bill LevettAusImprovise30.4
Georgie SpenceGBWii Limbo30.4

"As disappointing and frustrating as it has been to miss out on selection for the World Equestrian Games, Burghley holds a special place in my affections," said Townend.

"I have been saying quietly that this is the best bunch of horses I've had."

Townend's main opposition has come from the New Zealand pair, five-time Burghley winner Mark Todd and Tim Price, although Andreas Dibowski of Germany also made a good start in the dressage.

British challengers include the in-form Piggy French, handily placed on last year's Burghley runner-up Vanir Kamira, and Sarah Bullimore on Reve du Rouet, who is placed fourth after two days.

With three horses handily placed in the top seven, Townend has probably the best chance of victory.

Saturday's cross-country challenge is likely to be pivotal to the final positions. The course, designed Captain Mark Phillips, has raised eyebrows among the competitors.

"It is very undulating, very stamina-sapping and seriously big," said Townend. "Burghley is always big, but for me, it's the biggest one in terms of dimensions that I've seen."