Having not being able to sit or stand a day before the start of the competition, Oliver Townend was delighted with how he started this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
The former champion and horse Ballaghmor Class sit second in the overall standings, just behind leader Pippa Funnell, after the second day of dressage action at the eventing showpiece.
And the 38-year-old hailed the work of his horse and GB Equestrian’s head of physio for helping him in his quest to reclaim the Burghley crown.
“I was really struggling with a back injury before the event and I couldn’t have done anything without the help of Ashleigh Wallace," he said.
“She’s been a miracle worker and hopefully I can continue to get stronger as the competition continues.
“This horse is getting very established now; he’s a lot more strong than he used to be and I’m really happy.
“He’s still only 12 – we know how good he is but he’s not finished improving and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him even though he’s finished first and second on his two appearances at Burghley."
Izzy Taylor sits third with Springpower heading into Saturday's cross-country.
And while her camera-shy 10-year-old had a few early wobbles in the dressage ring, Taylor was delighted with the way he recovered to show the huge potential he has at this level.
“I’m very pleased with him as he’s still green at this level,” she said. “He went to Badminton and that slightly went to his head a little bit.
“We had a bit of homework to do and he came in here and the cameras are very close, he got a bit tense, but he came back to me and there’s still masses more to come.
“It’s a relationship and we had a little bit of time around the arena and I was able to say to him 'it’s alright, we’re still together, I’m still here and we’re fine - let’s go and do this'.
“There were a couple of mistakes in there so there still a lot more to come. He is very exciting horse for the future as he’s a horse that the owners have been with since day one.
“He really enjoys the cross-country phase but there is obviously a lot to do."
Meanwhile, Funnell was delighted with her dressage test on MGH Grafton Street while defending champion Tim Price has three horses in the top 20 heading into Saturday's action.
“He was really good, but he’s a horse that has always scored well on the flat," said Funnell. "He seems to get good marks in dressage, even though a lot of the time I don’t feel that comfortable riding him.
“But today it all came together. I just hope that can continue because he’s quite the comedian and I don’t think it’s over with this horse by any stretch.”
The multi-award winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (September 5 - 8) has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for over 50 years. For more information visit burghley-horse.co.uk