Last night saw another horse and rider inducted in the Eventing Riders Association (ERA) International Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials Hall of Fame. In the relaxed atmosphere of the rider’s lounge at Burghley, competing riders gathered for the social occasion, once again supported by Shearwater Insurance.
In a change to previous years, the Eventing Riders Association (International) welcomed nominations from riders, owners and the general public for this year’s horse and rider inductees. Taking an overwhelming majority was former world number 1 and leading British rider, Oliver Townend, with his 2017 winner Ballaghmor Class leading the nominations for the equine athletes.
A surprised and grateful Oliver Townend accepted the award, presented by Shearwater Insurance Managing Director Jeremy Lawton, and delivered a speech filled with emotion and humour.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m amazed and very grateful. There are probably only five people in the sport that really know me, and the others in the sport probably don’t like me, so I really am very grateful” said Oliver, to laughs and applause from the crowd.
The 2009 and 2017 winner went on to thank friend, and owner, Karyn Shuter for her years of support, and Angela Hislop, among other owners. Alongside owner Angela Hislop, Oliver has had 6 runners at CCI5* level of which they have never finished outside of the top two, showing what an incredible rider, he is and the partnership he has with the horses and owners.
“The whole team (who make this happen) are very very special. There are a whole host of people that most of you wouldn’t recognise. They’ve been there for 9 or 10 years and they are always there at 6 o’clock in the morning, and I couldn’t do it without them.”
Rounding off his speech, a humbled Townend added:
“I’m not very good at looking like things matter but this recognition matters more to me than any of you could ever imagine. So thank you!”
Ballaghmor Class won The Land River Burghley Horse Trials in 2017 on his CCI5* debut and finished second in 2018. Owners Val Ryan, Angela Hislop and Karyn Shuter joined Oliver to receive the award on his behalf.
Oliver and Ballagmor Class now join the likes of Andrew Nicholson and Avebury, William Fox-Pitt, Sir Mark Todd, Pippa Funnell, Lenamore, Shear L’eau and Happy Times as members of the Burghley Hall of Fame.