Germany's Simone Deitermann and Free Easy NRW are the new leaders after the second day of dressage at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. A polished performance was rewarded with a score of 39.3. to put her just 0.4 of a mark ahead of William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk.
Simone, who juggles eventing with a career as an accountant, has produced Free Easy NRW since a four year old, a horse by the dressage sire Florestan.
Third-placed Mary King, riding her homebred mare King's Temptress, showed some very solid trot work and faultless flying changes to finish on 41.8. This mare is a reliable cross-country horse with a few four-star completions under her belt, including a win at Lexington this year - and Mary is clearly none-the-worse from her fall at the European Championships last week.
Andrew Nicholson put in another cracking dressage performance to lie in fourth place with his Spanish-bred Thoroughbred Nereo, with his other ride Avebury just 0.3 marks behind in fifth place.
Last year's winners Caroline Powell and Lenamore have put the pressure on with a cracking dressage performance. Despite an error of course Caroline kept a cool head to produce a competitive score of 42.8, putting her into fifth equal. Could they be the first combination take the title for a second consecutive year?
Will fortune follow the brave?
The general consensus among riders is that this is the biggest track Burghley has seen for a while, moving away from the recent preference for course-builders to produce technical tracks. According to Mary King, the track is as it should be for a four star: “big but not too technical, and it will encourage riders to attack and ride forward to fences rather than the hooking and pulling that often results from more technical tracks.”
Crowds at Burghley have been spoilt with glorious sunshine and a top class international field of riders. With Olympic fever at a pitch, there is a large contingent of overseas riders among the entries, who are surely hoping to impress selectors with good results at arguably one of the most testing four-star tracks in the world.