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Burghley Horse Trials champion Oliver Townend hails event as his "favourite in the world" as he looks to defend his crown

Oliver Townend at Burghley Horse Trials trot-up Photo: Lee Hellwing (3881270)
Oliver Townend at Burghley Horse Trials trot-up Photo: Lee Hellwing (3881270)

Reigning champion Oliver Townend hailed Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials as his favourite event in the world as he prepares to defend his crown.

The prestigious three-day international event, which gets underway today (Thursday, August 30), will see many of the world’s finest horse and rider combinations descend on the Burghley Estate in Stamford, Lincolnshire, looking to follow in the footsteps of 2017 winner Townend.

And Townend believes Burghley will continue to push the riders and their horses to the limit this year.

“It’s very exciting to be back,” he said. “It’s the most difficult event to win in the world I think because of the terrain, the size of the fences and it’s also my favourite event in the world.

“It’s huge, the pressure is big, the atmosphere is fantastic and the crowd are very knowledgeable.

“Things happen at this place that wouldn’t happen at any other event in the world because it is so high profile and such a challenge.

“If all three horses come home safe that’s the main thing and after that if any manage to come in the top few I’d be very happy.”

Townend will be riding Ballaghmor Class, Cooley SRS and MHS King Joules having withdrawn Cooley Master Class and Ulises.

Also in the field will be six-time Olympian Andrew Nicholson, who has claimed the Burghley crown five times and rides Jet Set IV and Swallow Springs.

"I’ve had good days, bad days and all sorts of days here – I love coming here,” said the Marlborough-based rider. “It’s a beautiful place for a horse trial event.

"It quite undulating terrain around here – I think that’s what drew me to it. It was hard work, the first time I came here I fell off a few times, back in the old days when you could get on and have another go. It’s a real test.”

Liz Inman, event director of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, added: “This year’s event is going to be absolutely fabulous. Seventy horses have come through the inspection and we have an amazing competition ahead.

“The cross country course has been redesigned and there are some really exciting features there. The weather forecast is superb, it’s a lovely backdrop, there are lots of lovely shops and there is so much going on this year.”

The multi-award-winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials from August 30 to September 2 has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for over 50 years. For more information visit burghley-horse.co.uk

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