Double Olympic champion Mark Todd has made a strong start to the opening four star equestrian event of the year in Kentucky.

Todd, riding NZB Campino - the 14-year-old bay gelding on which he won a team bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics - is sitting equal sixth after the dressage phase on 43.2 penalty points.

That's just 8.8 points behind leader, Michael Jung of Germany, riding Fischerrocana FST.

American Allison Springer, on Arthur, are second on 39.7 points, while Marilyn Little of the US and RF Demeter, on 42.5 points sits third.


Kentucky is one of the few major events Todd has yet to win and he was left to reflect on a handful of small mistakes which cost him a few marks.

Two other high flying New Zealanders are also well positioned ahead of the crucial cross country stage tomorrow.

Jock Paget and Clifton Signature are 17th on 47.5 points, while Tim Price, riding Bango, are equal 20th on 48.3.

The former Olympic and world gold medallist Tait, riding Xanthus, are 38th on 54.1, while the fifth New Zealander in Kentucky, American-based Joe Meyer on Clip Clop, is 60th in the field of 71 after scoring 60.6 for his test.

Combinations can make huge strides up the leaderboard with a strong cross country performance. Tait called the cross country layout as ''a great course".

"Each individual fence is big but fair, and cumulatively I think it will ride strong because there is just no let up," he said.

Todd admitted it will be a substantial challenge.

''It is more twisty than last year, so that time will be difficult," he said.