Oliver Townend keeps heat on leader Tim Price as he chases third Burghley title

Olympic gold medallist Oliver Townend maintained his hopes of a third Defender Burghley Horse Trials title after an eventful cross-country phase saw him keep the pressure on world number one Tim Price.

Dorset-based New Zealander Price leads going into Sunday’s showjumping finale on a score of 26.7 penalties aboard Vitali.

But Townend is just 2.3 penalties behind following an outstanding display on his 2017 Burghley champion and Tokyo Olympics team gold medal-winning ride Ballaghmor Class.

The 40-year-old Yorkshireman collected only 4.8 time penalties across a demanding course that saw more than 20 combinations either retire or eliminated.

Townend was among the retirements on his first two horses Tregilder and Swallow Springs – a snapped rein unluckily put paid to Tregilder’s hopes – while others to bow out included Zara Tindall, double Tokyo Olympic medallist Tom McEwen and reigning European individual champion Ros Canter.

Two other British riders strengthened the home challenge behind Townend, with David Doel holding third place and Wills Oakden fourth after immaculate clear jumping rounds.

Townend said: “Ballaghmor Class is a freak of nature – my horse of a lifetime. You can just rely on him time and time again.”