Eliza Stoddart's childhood dream was to ride at Burghley Horse Trials. Today, she achieved it.
Together with Anne and Bruce Staley's 11-year-old gelding, Priorspark Opposition Free, the British rider is currently the overnight leader after day one of dressage after producing a confident test that fended off far more experienced combinations.
"I was really hoping I'd be in the top 15 after dressage, but to be in the lead is totally mind-boggling, and really cool, and totally exciting for everyone. It's really overwhelming and totally thrilling," said Eliza in the press conference.
"This is our local event – I live 20 minutes down the road. I used to come here when I was about six to do the Burghley hunter trials, and I'd sit on the Leaf Pit with my mates, joking that we were the Three Musketeers and we were going to do Burghley one day – it's a bit mental that I'm now sitting here in the press conference after day one."
Two of those familiar Burghley faces who couldn't get past Eliza are the ones currently sharing second place.
Compatriot Sarah Bullimore is here with 15-year-old Reve du Rouet, owned by Christopher and Susan Gillespie and Brett Bullimore, who's contesting his sixth Burghley. Although the horse is renowned for being a bit tricky, he was on his best behaviour today and they managed to produce a strong test that secured them second place overnight.
"He's an old pro, really. He was in a really good frame of mind today. It's not actually excitement with him, he can just have a bit of a panic and a worry, and he can actually look really relaxed and happy on the outside but there are all these voices in his head and inner turmoil going. But it's in the past now and I'm really happy with him.
Tied with Sarah on a score of 29.6 is New Zealand's Tim Price and the first of three rides he has here at Burghley, The Numero Uno Syndicate's 13-year-old gelding, Bango. He's also lying in eight with Xavier Faer, with last year's winner, Ringwood Sky Boy, still to go tomorrow.
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