Townend is hoping to break Bramham monopoly

HUDDERSFIELD’S Oliver Townend feels this year’s Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials are destined to end in an amazing eighth win for William Fox-Pitt.

Oliver Townend riding Armada GBR

But Townend has vowed to do his best to end the 45-year-old’s monopoly as he and Northallerton’s Nicola Wilson fly the flag for Yorkshire.

Former world No 1 Townend has been drawn to go first in the competition’s main event, the CCI three-star category, on ODT Ghareeb.

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Northerllerton’s Wilson also sends out Annie Clover and One Two Many as part of a stellar line-up at Bramham that also includes Zara Phillips and New Zealand eventing legend Sir Mark Todd.

On recent form, Townend can be considered a major player in the main event given his fantastic second-place finish on stable star Armada at the recent Badminton Horse Trials.

Even Fox-Pitt failed to complete at Badminton and now the seven-time Bramham winner relies on the Yorkshire-owned inexperienced Freddie Mac in a bid to add an amazing eighth title in Yorkshire to his collection.

But Townend feels that Fox-Pitt’s mount will almost certainly be up to the occasion and is in no doubt as to the identity of this week’s hot favourite.

“I would have thought William would be the one to beat as he is always difficult to beat,” said Townend.

“He’s a top-class rider and he seems to have an endless string of exceptional horses. He’s always the man to beat. Who knows how I’ll get on? We’ll see. I wouldn’t have thought it would be my turn this time but I’ll certainly be there to try.”

As well as sending 10-year-old ODT Ghareeb into CCI three-star duty, one of Townend’s less familiar names, 12-year-old Black Tie II, takes in the CIC three-star competition. Both of this week’s entries are seen as horses for the future.

“Ghareeb is Yorkshire owned and, hopefully, the course will suit him,” said Townend.

“His form has been a little bit up and down and he’s still a relatively inexperienced horse at this level. But he’s got the ability and let’s just hope that he pulls it all together. Black Tie is possibly only going to do the dressage.

“He is a good horse and he goes to Luhmuhlen in Germany the following week so we’ll see how we go.”

For Townend, 31, this week’s competition will be his first appearance at Bramham since 2011 when Neo Du Breuil was third in the CCI three-star event.

But the former Salendine Nook High School pupil says future appearances are likely to be more frequent with the rider seeing the competition as being perfect for educating stars of the future.

Townend added: “I’ve been third there before and it’s never been the highest priority event for me but, at the same time, now that we have got a lot of three-star horses coming through you’ll hopefully see me there more often.”

Joining Townend in flying the White Rose flag will be Wilson, who relies on Annie Clover and Yorkshire-owned One Two Many, both in the flagship CCI three-star event.

The talents of Annie Clover have been well documented – the 10-year-old mare steps down a level after competing at Badminton – but One Two Many is a less familiar name and a more recent recruit. Wilson says 12-year-old One Two Many has long been aimed at competing in this week’s event, describing him as an exciting prospect for the future.

“One Two Many is Yorkshire-owned and he’s been aimed for Bramham which is extremely exciting,” said Wilson of the mount owned by Alne couple Gerry and Mary Kemp and their daughter Janine.

“He’s a very, very exciting horse that came to the yard last year and he went very well at Burnham Market in the CIC three-star.

“He was fourth there after a lovely dressage test and a steady double clear and that was his last run over cross-country before Bramham.

“We’re very excited about him. Bramham is one of my favourite events in the country and I am very much looking forward to being there.”

Dressage for the CCI and CIC sections gets underway tomorrow while all three sections will be in the main arena on Friday.

Saturday starts with CIC show-jumping and then all three sections head out to the scenic parkland to tackle Ian Stark’s cross-country course.

First off will be the CCI section, then the Under-25s before the CIC set off to establish the winner of the £2,000 first prize.

On Sunday, all eyes will be on the Equi-Trek Arena where the roll of a pole could mean victory or defeat in the show-jumping section.

The Under-25s are first on before the final CCI section with £29,000 on offer across the two sections.

Sponsors Equi-Trek are also giving the CCI winner use of one of their two-horse lorries for a year.