Irish-bred horses may be in in sixth and seventh place after the dressage phase at the four-star horse trials in Burghley, England this evening, but they’ll have some task to catch the current leader, the huge Hannoverian gelding Nobilis 18, ridden by Australia’s Christopher Burton.

Burton, who also led the Dressage at the Rio Olympic Games last month, eventually finishing fifth with a team bronze medal,recorded just 30.2 penalties today, leaving him with 4.3 penalties in hand over first-day leader Bettina Hoy (GER) in a top 10 which is dominated by Australian and New Zealand riders.

Two of these are the Irish-bred Blue Frontier, ridden by dual Burghley winner Andrew Hoy from Australia, in sixth place, and last year’s runner-up, Ringwood Sky Boy ridden by New Zealand’s Tim Price, in seventh.

Meanwhile Burton, who will chalk up his first British CCI4* win if he is triumphant at Burghley said today: “Nobilis was fantastic and I’m so proud of him,” said Burton of the 11-year-old that was initially produced by last year’s Burghley winner, Germany’s Michael Jung. The pair have won four of their nine international starts and were second at Britain’s three star Blenheim last year.

“He can be quirky and he got rather lit up at Badminton (where they fell on the Cross-Country), but here he let me ride him and put my leg on. I can’t believe it.”

Seventy horses completed the Dressage; Rodolphe Scherer (FRA) was eliminated when the Ground Jury decided that Makara de Montiege looked unlevel.

Burton, a dual winner of the Adelaide CCI4*, wasn’t allowing himself to get too carried away. “I think I’m more terrified than excited. It’s hard to feel confident when you’re facing the Cross Country at Burghley – it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been here, the Leaf Pit is still huge – but I’m on a blood horse and this place always gets me going.”

Listen to Christopher Burton speak after capturing the lead at Burghley today at this link.

 Results after Dressage

1 Christopher Burton/Nobilis 18 (AUS) 30.2

2 Bettina Hoy/Designer 10 (GER) 34.5

3 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo (NZL) 35.2

4 Caroline Powell/Onwards and Upwards (NZL) 37.8

5 Oliver Townend/MHS King Joules (GBR) 38.1

6 Andrew Hoy/Blue Frontier (AUS) 38.3

7 Tim Price/Ringwood Sky Boy (NZL) 38.9

8 Sam Griffiths/Happy Times (AUS) 39.6

9 Blyth Tait/Bear Necessity V (NZL) 40.0

10 Sir Mark Todd/NZB Campino (NZL) 42.2