Sarah Bullimore secures narrow overnight lead at Burghley Horse Trials

·2-min read

Sarah Bullimore underlined her credentials to land a first Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials title on a day of British domination that also saw Zara Tindall thrive.

Bedfordshire-based Bullimore, individual bronze medallist at last year’s European Eventing Championship, secured a narrow overnight lead on 11-year-old gelding Corouet.

Their dressage score of 22.5 penalties edged Northamptonshire’s Piggy March and Vanir Kamira into second place, with defending Burghley champion Pippa Funnell third aboard Billy Walk On.

Pippa Funnell
Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On during day one of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (Jacob King/PA)

Former world champion and London 2012 British team silver medallist Tindall, meanwhile, closed the opening day by posting a score of 28.4 on Class Affair to move fourth.

Bullimore said: “I am absolutely thrilled. He was amazing. He loves the crowds and never wants to come out of the arena.”

March, a multiple medallist at European and world level, claimed a first Badminton crown three years ago and only missed out by 0.1 penalties behind Funnell in a thrilling Burghley title race four months later.

March rode Vanir Kamira on both occasions, and the combination again delivered as Burghley returned after a three-year absence following the coronavirus pandemic.

Zara Tindall
Zara Tindall at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (Jacob King/PA)

Reflecting on her impressive test, meanwhile, Tindall said: “I am so pleased with that.

“He has always had the potential, but his brain takes over a bit, and it did a little bit in a couple of the movements, but he came back and he was much calmer than he has ever been in there.

“I am delighted to be under (a score of) 30. It (leaderboard) will probably change a bit tomorrow, but at least you are giving yourself a shout, aren’t you.”

Oliver Townend
World number one Oliver Townend is among the Burghley title challengers (Steve Parsons/PA)

The race for Burghley’s £100,000 top prize could move up a gear on Friday with Olympic gold medallists Oliver Townend and Tom McEwen among those in action.

Shropshire-based world number one Townend, who won Burghley in 2009 and 2017, has two horses entered – Swallow Springs and Tregilder – with McEwen, who also won individual silver at last year’s Tokyo Games, riding CHF Cooliser.

A total prize fund of more than £320,000 is the largest in Burghley’s 61-year history, with dressage followed by Saturday’s cross-country phase and the showjumping finale 24 hours later.