Huddersfield’s Oliver Townend is bidding to land eventing’s richest prize this weekend.
After the 35-year-old – who took up equestrian sport with the Holme Valley Riding Club – won the Kentucky three-day event in the United States, he has chance to land the Rolex Grand Slam.
The British No1 won on Cooley Master Class in the US, beating Germany’s Olympic champion Michael Jung.
Townend won September’s Burghley Horse Trials too, and the victory in Kentucky means he can land the slam Slam at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
It carries a £255,000 prize and is awarded to any rider who wins consecutive Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton crowns.
It has been achieved on only two previous occasions, by Jung and Britain’s Pippa Funnell.
Townend took an early lead at Badminton before finishing the day-one dressage in seventh on Cooley SRS.
In Kentucky, it was the fourth time Townend, who helped Great Britain take European team gold in Poland last September, has won an elite four-star event, collecting just over £90,000 for his efforts.
And he became the fourth British rider to claim victory at Kentucky after Funnell, William Fox-Pitt and Mary King.
Townend’s brilliant show jumping, going clear with 13-year-old gelding Cooley Master Class, left him on a final score of 28.70 penalties, with Jung, who was chasing a fourth successive Kentucky win, finishing second and America’s Marilyn Little third.
After his win in America, the Shropshire-based rider said: “I’ve had a rough couple of years one way and another and it’s a hard grind at home, but this is an absolute long-term dream of mine.
“I just want to thank every single person here for sharing that dream day with me.”
Townend grew up in Scapegoat Hill and his parents, Alan and Eve, were both leading riders in their day.
Their son – also a member of the Rockwood Harriers Pony Club – joined Holme Valley, based at Woodnook above Honley, at the age of 10.
He was a member of their championship winning teams at the British Riding Club’s Horse Trials in 1994 and 95.