NEWs

Oliver Townend gets off to Flying Start

Oliver Townend, the world number one, has already made his mark on day one at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, Gloucestershire, leading two of the championship classes.

He is in first and second after the dressage phase in the Evelyn Partners British Intermediate Championship on Crazy du Loir and the appropriately named Caunton First Class. Both mares are owned by the Peace family’s Caunton Stud in Nottinghamshire, for whom the Olympic gold medallist is official rider.

Crazy du Loir

Oliver Townend and Crazy du Loir

The nine-year-old chestnut Crazy du Loir is French-bred by the Selle Francais Rissoa d’ag Bois Margot out of a Diamant de Semilly mare. Caunton First Class, an eight-year-old, was bred in Germany where she was the four-year-old Westphalian eventing champion and has done a season of embryo transfer.

The pair finished first and second in a CCI3*-L class at Houghton in May. “They’re both very good horses which are new to me this season,” explained Oliver. “Crazy in particular is very progressive, but they have both progressed out of all recognition this year.”

Oliver is already a four-time winner of this class, although he is still two victories behind the record-holder William Fox-Pitt.

He also currently leads the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship on Sir John Peace’s Finlay du Loir, an exceptionally smart-moving bay gelding who is a new arrival from France.

Finlay du Loir

Oliver Townend and Finlay du Loir

His Olympic team mate, Tom McEwen, who is based at HRH The Princess Royal’s yard at Gatcombe Park, is lying second on Magdalena Gut, Vicky Bates and David Myers’ Falaise de Riverland, a seven-year-old French-bred mare that he has been bringing up through the grades.

The dressage phase for this class continues tomorrow and both championship classes will be show jumping in the main arena from 8.00am and going across country from 10.30am.

There is general delight – for riders, owners, spectators and officials – at the return of the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing for the first time since 2019. “Those who love horses and the thrill of all equine sport know the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing is the ultimate celebration of the horse as athlete, in concert with the skill and courage of their extraordinary riders,” said Katie Page-Harvey, president of the Australian Thoroughbred auction house.

“Everyone in attendance, whether you are a long-term supporter or first-time visitor, understands the privilege of witnessing this world-class competition in such a breathtaking setting. I intend to savour every minute of this incredibly special weekend.”

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