Townend buoyed by his top new recruits

Oliver Townend riding Armada GBR
Oliver Townend riding Armada GBR
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HUDDERSFIELD’S world 
No 4 Oliver Townend has issued a bullish bulletin for 2015 stating: “We’ll be there for every event at any decent level.”

Townend is approaching the new eventing season following his finest year since becoming world No 1 with victories at Burghley and Badminton in 2009.

The Shropshire-based rider was runner-up at last year’s Badminton with Armada, who is on course to try to go one better in May, and the stable star has been joined by two exciting new recruits in Mr Hiho and Dromgurrihy Blue, the latter 34th at Burghley for Harry Dzenis.

With Black Tie II also developing into a top-notch four-star performer and a host of younger horses also improving, Townend knows he is in his strongest position for some time.

“Everything is looking very good,” he says. “We’ve got a very good team of horses, the same team basically with a few extra ones at a higher level – three- and four-star level. They are in good form.

“They’re all progressing and going in the right direction and I hope to have a similar if not better campaign than last year.

“I hope to finish top of the rankings British-wise and I hope to improve on the world ranking and I just hope everything keeps going in the right direction.

“We’ll possibly start out at Aston-le-Walls or Isleham down in Cambridge and then the usual carrying on from there – Oasby in Lincolnshire and then Lincoln.

“We are just drawing up the plan this week, but pretty much every event at any decent level, we’ll be there.”

Assessing his new recruits, Townend added: “We had Mr Hiho at the end of last year that came from Mary and Emily King’s yard. He’s going to come out at three-star level and we’ll see how he gets on.

“We’ve got a horse called Dromgurrihy Blue that was at Burghley last year and again he’s a new four-star horse so we shall see.

“Armada will be aimed at Badminton and then obviously we have got a strong bunch of horses at three-star level now so we should be at every three-star and by the end of this year there should be quite a few of them aiming at four-star level.”

Conquering Badminton and Burghley are clearly high on Townend’s list for 2015 ambitions, but September also features the European Championships at Blair Castle in which 12 combinations will represent Great Britain.

British No 1 Townend ought to be a banker but added: “I don’t get to choose that so I’ll concentrate on my form and doing as well as I can at the three- and four-star events.

“Hopefully, that will be good enough to be selected. You’d like to hope so,wouldn’t you? You don’t get too excited about an eventing season at this stage because I have been doing it for a long, long time. But it’s certainly the most excited I’ve been in a while.”