Time on his side for a relaxed Townend

Oliver Townend acknowledges the crowd after finishing third in the Equitrek CCI*** on day four of the Bramham Horse Trials at Bramham Park. Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.
Oliver Townend acknowledges the crowd after finishing third in the Equitrek CCI*** on day four of the Bramham Horse Trials at Bramham Park. Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.
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OLIVER Townend has been quick to dust himself down from the disappointment of late heartache at Bramham – stressing he’s got time on his side to break the Yorkshire showpiece duck.

Huddersfield-raised Townend looked destined to record his maiden win at Bramham last weekend when leading the CCI three-star on MHS King Joules and having a fence in hand approaching Sunday’s show-jumping finale.

But two fences down cost the Yorkshireman, allowing New Zealand’s former world no 1 Andrew Nicholson to snatch victory on Jet Set IV, ahead of Britain’s Lauren Shannon on Quality Purdey as Townend had to settle for third.

The Huddersfield rider first competed at Bramham back in 2004 on Harlequin Bay and while the rider has since conquered both Badminton and Burghley – and been world no 1 – a victory at Bramham remains absent from the roll of honour.

But Townend insists there will be plenty of other opportunities to put that right in the future with the rider keen to highlight that he is still only 33 years of age. On the contrary, the victorious Nicholson is now 54, and enjoying something of a renaissance having been sidelined for a year having narrowly avoided paralysis after a fall at Gatcombe last summer.

“I’ve got 22 years ahead of me hopefully if I’m going to keep going to his age,” Townend told The Yorkshire Post. “Andrew is 22 years older and there are a lot of other fellas that have kept going so we’ll see. I might have a little break half way and go again! We’ll see how we go.”

First and foremost, July 5 marks a hugely important date for Townend and his fellow British eventing stars with selectors set to announce the four riders that will represent their country at the Rio Olympics this summer. Townend missed London 2012 and admitted prior to Bramham that a maiden win at the venue in an Olympic year would have been a “dream.” The rider admits there are now things he would have done differently on reflection of Sunday’s show jumping round but was nonetheless proud of his efforts in coming third.

“I would have just changed distances and things,” said Townend, asked on what he might have done differently. “You never know what you are going to get with them in there.

“It’s my first proper three-day event on him and you can always do something different. I don’t blame myself but at the same time I would definitely do something different if I went in there. But was he tired? Definitely not.”

And neither is Townend, with all roads now leading to the year’s third CCI four-star in Luhmuhlen this weekend where the Yorshireman will be riding Black Tie II and Dromgurrihy Blue. Townend even had a broken nose to show for his efforts at Bramham – picked up on Note Worthy during Saturday’s Event Rider Masters CIC three-star cross country round – but the rider was highly satisfied with his week as a whole. Samuel Thomas II was also ninth in the CCI three-star and Townend – who was ranked 17th in the world before Bramham – is heading for a rise.

As it stands, in the FEI world rankings, only four Brits sit higher in Izzy Taylor (8th), Gemma Tattersall (11th), Tina Cook (15th) and Pippa Funnell (16th).

“It was a good week,” said Townend, on reflection of the four days at Bramham as a whole. “I’ve got a broken nose to show for it so that’s always good. A good night out, not.

“But at the same time the horse that finished ninth, that’s his best performance at this level. And they are showing progression. As long as they keep progressing and I keep progressing with them and the results keep getting better and better then I am happy to keep going. I’m very pleased with how it’s all gone.”