OLYMPIC gold medallist Oliver Townend has made a flying start in his quest for a third Defender Burghley Horse Trials title.

The Ellesmere-based former world number one posted an impressive dressage score of 24.2 penalties with Swallow Springs.

That was enough to give Townend, who was part of Great Britain’s gold medal-winning eventing team at the Tokyo Olympics, an overnight lead from reigning European champion Ros Canter and Pencos Crown Jewel on 26.9.


Townend, who won Burghley in 2009 and 2017, returns to the dressage arena aboard his Tokyo ride Ballaghmor Class on Friday.

Emily King and Valmy Biats, meanwhile, lead a congested chasing pack behind Canter, which includes former world champion Zara Tindall, who lies seventh on Class Affair.