Friday, May. 24, 2024

Tim Price Sets Burghley Record As Dressage Comes To A Close

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Stamford, Lincolnshire, EnglandSept. 1

If Tim Price and Vitali had matched their best dressage score of 21.3 from last year’s Burghley CCI5*-L, they would have had a comfortable lead over yesterday’s leaders Oliver Townend and Swallow Springs heading into the cross-country. But the New Zealand pair didn’t just match that—they crushed it, scoring an 18.7 to sit atop the Defender Burghley Horse Trials leaderboard.

It’s the first time a rider has scored sub-20 at Burghley; Australia’s Chris Burton, who scored 20.1 in 2016, held the previous record with Nobilis 18. It’s not an all-time low score at the five-star level. According to EquiRatings, that title belongs to Bettina Hoy and Woodsides Ashby, who scored a 13.9 (after the multiplier was removed) back in 2002 at the FEI World Equestrian Games (Spain).

“I can’t believe it,” said Price. “He’s always had that ability, hasn’t he? But [he’s] a quirky little horse, and it’s usually a couple of things, usually mainly my fault that don’t go quite to plan, but he was super, and I’ve just got to ride him.”

Tim Price and Vitali following their test. Photo Courtesy Of Burghley

This is the fourth five-star start for Vitali, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Contender—Noble Lady I, Heraldik xx) owned by Price, Alexander Giannamore and Joseph Giannamore. Fellow Kiwi James Avery competed the gelding through the four-star level until 2018, and Samantha Lissington showed him at national shows in Great Britain in 2020, before Price took the reins in 2021. That year the pair represented New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

He’s never finished outside the top 10 in a five-star, with his best finish coming at Burghley last year, where they were third.

“He has done some good scores at this level once or twice, but I do believe in him for better [marks], and he’s just proven that today,” he said. “Such a funny little horse. He just needs full attention on the job, and then once he’s got that concentration he relaxes a little bit, and I can ride him, and it’s poetry, isn’t it?”

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Watch his test, courtesy of BurghleyTV:

Great Britain’s Townend holds second and third with Swallow Springs and Ballaghmor Class, both of whom scored 24.2.

“It’s great,” he said. “Both horses are very, very different horses to ride, but look the results are in, and they both went in there and did a test with a smile on their faces, and I think as far as I’m aware they’ve both jumped a clear round in there, so fingers crossed they both continue the form for the next two days.”

Six U.S. pairs are competing this week and all six are inside the top 20 after dressage. Three of those pairs are in the top 10: Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF are in sixth on a 28.1, Grace Taylor and Game Changer are right behind them in seventh on a 28.9, and Will Faudree had a personal best with Mama’s Magic Way to sit ninth on 28.9.

“He’s a good old horse, and we’ve sort of had an up and down year this year, and I feel like we’re just starting to pull it all together even though he’s a veteran of the sport,” said Martin. “To be in the mix with some of the best horses and best riders, I don’t know, it’s either a relief or happiness, but we’ve still got a big mission ahead of us tomorrow and the next days.”

Riders will tackle Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. local time, with Great Britain’s Harry Meade and Away Cruising the first to leave the startbox.

Full Results.

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