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Oliver Townend On Serious Quest At The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials
Stamford, UK
Oliver Townend (GBR) and Carousel Quest
The violently windy conditions at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) proved no handicap to the leader after Dressage, Oliver Townend (GBR), who is also heading the HSBC FEI Classics at this fourth leg of the worldwide series of CCI4*.

Townend, 26, conjured a beautiful, light performance out of the elegant grey Carousel Quest, a new ride for him this year and 8th at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event in April. He was the only rider to earn less than 40 penalties, which gives him a 5.2 penalty lead over Andrew Nicholson (NZL) on Nereo.

"I was worried about the flying changes, with the wind, but he felt as good as he's ever been," said Townend.

The 14-year-old Carousel Quest has already been placed at Burghley, in 2006 when he was 4th with previous rider Cressida Clague-Reading (GBR). In contrast, Nereo is only 9, but he won Bramham CCI3* in June and has the benefit of probably the most experienced jockey in the field.

"It's a big step up for him, but he's a very rideable horse," commented Nicholson, 48, who had a far smoother ride in contrast to his acrobatics on his first horse, Armada, now 69th.

Nicholson's Olympic team mate Caroline Powell is in 3rd place on her hugely experienced and athletic Hong Kong horse Lenamore, with first-day leader Phillip Dutton (USA) now relegated to 4th, by just 0.1 of a penalty.

William Fox-Pitt (GBR), last year's HSBC FEI Classics winner, is in 8th place after a tactfully ridden test on Seacookie, but just 2.5 penalties covers the horses placed 13th to 19th, thus ensuring a thrilling Cross-Country competition.

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