Friday 4th of December 2020

Burghley ’19 XC: Sweaty palms, twitchy knees and red button drama

Despite having to watch today’s Burghley action unfold on the BBC red button at home due to grooming duties for Polo Mad Son, it didn’t stop me suffering sweaty palms and palpitations that I get each year on Super Saturday. 

One can only imagine what the riders go through! As the crowds piled in and Nick Luck and Ian Stark kept me entertained and informed (any one else get the giggles with Jon Culshaw’s Trump?!), I had the added bonus of regular pings on my phone from our Top Tog, William Carey.

Before leaving for our 0 goal match at Kirtlington Park Polo Club, I managed to catch the phenomenal round of Burghley 1st timer Lici Hawker and Charles RR. Finishing the day in a quite brilliant 17th place ahead of tomorrow’s showjumping phase, Lici climbed an impressive 37 places. With my left knee jumping every fence with her (sincerely hope I’m not the only one that does a funny ‘hup’ when counting the strides), it was clear that the time was going to be limited to an elite few.

Hear what Lici had to say after her round:


One combination who we love watching eat up 5* tracks and who we really hoped would be on the button when it came to the time, was rising star Imogen Murray and her heroic XC machine, Ivor Gooden. The pair climbed 52 places to finish the day with just 4 time faults for an impressive 8th place on a score of 44.4. 

Another notable round for us was USA”s Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan. We met up with Ariel yesterday and for a Burghley first timer, she was as cool as a cucumber and didn’t see remotely ruffled except to acknowledge that the course was BIG! We were thrilled to watch her jump the last and gallop home adding 15.6 time penalties to her super round and finish in 12th behind fellow USA combo Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus. 

With 3 withdrawals, 11 retirements and 33 combinations completing, that left 20 eliminations today including dashed hopes and dreams for Zara Tindall and Class Affair, Izzy Taylor and Springpower (so gutted for Izzy and all connections as they were lying 3rd overnight post dressage) and Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul, however Gemma and Santiago Bay completed on 41.1 for 6th. The day was the emotional rollercoaster we come to expect from a gutsy Captain Mark Phillips-designed track, however every horse and rider walked home safe thanks to the advances in fence design. Hear his thoughts here:


Hear what Gemma had to say about her round below:


Time was proving incredibly tricky – let’s say nigh on impossible – with Ludwig Svennerstal & Stinger leading for most of the day having added just 6 time faults to his fabulous round until the guts and determination of Super Heroine Piggy French and Vanir Kamira left the start box. Did I get to watch the dynamic duo gallop home INSIDE the time?! That’s a no. Between juggling an over excited pre-teen ahead of his polo match and checking updates from the Twitterati, I had to settle for knowing an uninterrupted sesh on the sofa beckoned on Sunday afternoon to watch it all on catch up.

Hear what Piggy had to say about her round:

The same goes for missing overnight leader Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street who kept their lead with only 0.1 between her and Piggy. I hate missing it live but the day ended with Oliver Townend and Burghley superstar Ballaghmor Class completing for third. A great British 1-2-3 going in to tomorrow’s showjumping. Here’s hoping everyone trots up sound tomorrow at the second horse inspection. Needless to say we lost the polo match and are now in the play offs tomorrow morning. Always one to take a positive from a disappointment, the  0 goal final is at 4.15pm tomorrow so I now know where I will be! Telly on, tea, biscuits, sweaty palms and twitchy knee! Can’t wait!

For more photos click here and full results can be found here

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