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German leader at Burghley Horse Trials - video

September 3, 2011

Pictures from the first 2 days - page 1 | page 2 | page 3

Germany's Simone Deitermann and Free Easy NRW have taken the lead after the second and final day of dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

Germany's Simone Deitermann topped the dressage at Burghley with Free Easy NRW, on 39.3. This is just 0.4 in front of William Fox-Pitt (GB) on Parklane Hawk.
© Horsesports Photographic

Simone Deitermann. © Mike Bain

» Full results (below)

The combination is well known for their ability in the dressage arena, but the German rider still said it felt "amazing" to be in the lead on her first visit to Burghley, the second-last leg of the HSBC FEI Classics series.

"My horse was quite nervous," she said, "and he is not used to performing on a grass arena."

Despite that, an excellent performance resulted in a score of 39.3 penalties, just 0.4 ahead of the first-day leader William Fox-Pitt (GB) on Parklane Hawk, a New Zealand-bred thoroughbred who was produced by Matthew Grayling and has only been with the top British rider for 18 months.

Deitermann, 30, who was 12th at Badminton last year, missed out on the thrilling German domination at the HSBC FEI European Championships last weekend because she and Free Easy NRW had experienced problems in the build-up, including a fall at Bramham CCI3*.

"This is my chance to qualify for the London Olympic Games," said Deitermann, who was third after Dressage at the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games in Kentucky last year before suffering a cross country fall at the last fence.

She has walked the cross country at Burghley with German team trainer Chris Bartle and says: "It is beautiful, but I think it will be quite tough for me."

Mary King (GB), who is lying third on her second ride, Rolex Kentucky winner Kings Temptress, likes the more old-fashioned look to Mark Phillips's course.

"It's a great course, especially for first-timers, as it should teach them to ride on over big fences, go for a forward stride and get their horses jumping out of their strides, which is how cross country riding should be. Sometimes, with the more technical courses, less experienced riders worry too much about getting a clear round at their first attempt and do not ride forward."

However, King also warned: "You might think that the course is simpler because it's less technical, but I thought that at last weekend's European Championships and ended up biting mud!"

Andrew Nicholson (NZ), who is in fourth and fifth places with his two horses, also suffered a fall last weekend, at a national competition. But he did not let a painfully swollen hand affect his performance on his world bronze medalist Nereo, scoring two 9s for his riding to post a final mark of 42.3.

Two-time winner Nicholson has been in blinding form of late, and both his mounts are excellent over the cross country - a phase that often foxes many.

"This is a very tough event - it is a demanding cross country," said Nicholson. "The key will be working out where to save energy out there."

William Fox-Pitt eyes the opposition. © Mike Bain
He is sharing fifth place with last year's winners, Caroline Powell (NZ) and the 18-year-old Lenamore, who certainly doesn't behave like an older horse. As soon as his rider left the arena, she was quick to put the neck-strap back on for security as the little grey horse is not above spooking and shying on the way back to the stable.

Blyth Tait (NZ) and Santos are creating plenty of interest with their return from a seven-year retirement, but are mid field after a few costly mistakes in the dressage.

Mark Todd (NZ) is sitting down in the order, after being let down by Major Milestone's canter during his dressage test.

Riders are saying the going on the cross-country track is superb, but as Fox-Pitt conceded, "with some trepidation. It should ride well, and both my horses should be well capable of it, but you never know what's going to happen."

A capacity crowd is clearly warming up for the big day - several members of the public have been spotted photographing the enormous ditch (which comfortably fits a Land Rover) at the Cottesmore Leap (fence 21).

• The fact that Boyd Martin (USA) and his horse Neville Bardos are competing at Burghley at all is nothing short of a miracle. Neville Bardos was one of five horses rescued from a stable fire at the barn that Martin rented from leading US rider Phillip Dutton. The fire that was caused by an electrical fault and happened at the end of May killed six horses. Neville Bardos was the last of the rescued horses to get out. "Due to smoke inhalation the vets didn't give him much of a chance but we've just taken it day by day – certainly being at Burghey is a bit of an emotional one. He cheated death and it really is remarkable that he is here at all," Martin said.

Last year the combination was fourth at Lexington CCI**** and in October at the World Equestrian Games took individual 10th place. However, it is the first time that Martin has started at Burghley. "I'd love to see those finishing flags," said Martin, who is in 24th after the dressage with 49.7. "We've had a tough preparation but he can run with the best. He looks good, feels fit and we’ll have a go."

• Meanwhile New Zealanders have also been featuring at Burghley in the young event horse four year old final, where Powell was third with her Irish bred horse Up, Up and Away, and Lizzie Brown fourth with Bulana - the highest place mare in the class.

"She is our hope for Burghley in five years time," Brown said.



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