HUDDERSFIELD rider Oliver Townend is the toast of the town.
The eventer is rapidly becoming an equestrian superstar and bringing more glory to a town already basking in the reflected success of the showjumping Whitaker dynasty.
Now Oliver, a former member of Holme Valley Riding Club, is ready to chase another of eventing’s cash jackpots which could take him past £250,000 in prizemoney from just three competitions.
Oliver, who grew up in Scapegoat Hill, has come a long way since his early years with the Rockwood Harriers Pony Club.
He has added the Badminton Horse Trials title to his burgeoning portfolio by seeing off the challenge of British Olympian William Fox-Pitt in a thrilling finish.
Oliver – Britain’s first Badminton winner since Pippa Funnell in 2005 – scooped £60,000 for his efforts with Flint Curtis, less than six months after landing the inaugural £100,000 Express Eventing crown on the same horse.
And his sights are now set on the HSBC FEI Classics – a series of five events that carry another £100,000 for the overall champion.
Fox-Pitt won it last year, but 26-year-old Oliver now leads his rival by one point heading to Luhmuhlen in Germany next month. Burghley follows in September, then the French venue of Pau.
Before all that, the rider will be in action at Chatsworth this weekend in the International Horse Trials. He will have several rides on horses including ODT Ballinclover, ODT Easy Flight, Golden Hue and Waterview.
Oliver took Badminton glory, with just 0.7-worth of penalties ahead of Fox-Pitt, with Australian Sam Griffiths third.
“I hope to compete in all of the HSBC Classics,” said Oliver, “I’ve got horses for all of them.”
Flint Curtis though, will now take a well-earned breather after coping with intense pressure to prevail following the showjumping test.
Oliver added: “I knew he would do it, somehow. I knew last November that he could win it, and now that he has won it, I am still dreaming.
“I know him inside out, and I knew if I did the right things then he would pull it off.
“It is an indescribable feeling. Flint is a very special horse – we have a very good partnership.
“Ever since Burghley last September, he has just got better and better. I thought this could be his year to win Badminton.”
And there were also celebrations as his groom, 22-year-old Katherine Mellor from Huddersfield was awarded the Mark Holliday Memorial trophy at Badminton.