Townend tops thrilling finale at Burghley

The 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials saw a nail-biting final after four days of hot competition, with leading British event riders taking the top three placings.

Oliver Townend and his brilliant partner 16-year-old grey gelding Ballaghmor Class won their second Defender Burghley Horse Trials trophy, plus eventing’s biggest prize of £110,000, also joining the elite group of partnerships that have more than one plaque on Burghley’s Winners’ Avenue.

Owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan, Ballaghmor Class joins Priceless (winner in 1983 and 1985 with Ginny Leng, née Holgate ) and Avebury (Andrew Nicholson, 2012-2014) as the only multiple equine winners of Defender Burghley.

The combination, previously second and third at Defender Burghley, also won the Kentucky CCI5* in the USA, plus multiple placings at Badminton and was part of Britain’s gold medal-winning team at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

New Zealand’s Tim Price and Vitali, third last year, lit up the main arena on the second day of dressage, producing the best-ever dressage score seen at Defender Burghley of 18.7 to take the lead going into Saturday’s cross-country phase.

Sadly, this combination dropped to fourth place after a disappointing four fences down in the showjumping on the final day, opening the door for the 2017 Burghley Defender winners to regain the

Britain’s David Doel rose to second place with a flawless showjumping round on Gillian Jonas’s Galileo Nieuwmoed. He was the only rider to finish the competition on his dressage score and record his best CCI5* result on a score of 33.7.

In third place, Harry Meade (whose father Richard won Burghley in 1964) also produced a superb showjumping round from Charlotte Opperman’s 10-year-old mare Cavalier Crystal – Harry’s best result at Defender Burghley.

All the action from Defender Burghley was shown exclusively on Burghley TV, which costs just £20 for an annual subscription. The coverage is available on playback, and features all the sport, plus features, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Visit to subscribe.
The 2024 Defender Burghley Horse Trials will take place from 5th to 8th September.

Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse finals

Five year-olds:
Local rider Ros Canter and Cooley Cloverland (Cavalier Land x Clover Hill), went one better than their second place 12 months ago when they took top spot in the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse final for five-year-olds.

As clear winners the combination finished on a total score of 87.75 – more than six points ahead of their nearest rival.

Cooley Cloverland, who is owned by Kate and Joe Walls and Rob and Tricia Sargent, earned top marks for dressage and showjumping, and delivered a stirring finish in front of the final gallop judge, Andrew Nicholson, to seal the deal.

Four year-olds:
Michael Jackson triumphed in the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse final for four-year-olds at Defender Burghley on his own exciting young prospect, Oscar, by the KWPN stallion Kitt SB out of Flair, by Quasimodo.

Oscar earned the top jumping marks from judge Nicola Wilson to finish on a score of 85.

Elspeth Williams and Milena took the runner-up spot ahead of Catherine Robinson on Malawi Lancer, both finishing on identical scores (82.25) with the final ranking being determined by the jumping scores.

Photographs: DBHT/Peter Nixon

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