Friday 9th of April 2021

Burghley Focus: Contending Combinations

This year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (1-4 September) looks set to be a wide open and exciting contest, with a hugely strong international challenge gunning for first place, writes Kitty Trice.


Tim Price


The New Zealand challenge:

The New Zealanders will be headed by five-time winner Andrew Nicholson, who will be hoping to add a sixth title off the back of a fantastic run of form. Despite breaking his neck a year ago, “Mr Stickability” is back with a vengeance, having won Bramham CIC3* and the Event Riders Master Series (ERM) class at Barbury this season.

Andrew, despite the retirement of Burghley specialist Avebury, is certainly not short on horse power and will ride Deborah Sellar’s Nereo and Rosemary Barlow’s Qwanza.

The Spanish-bred Nereo, who has been placed in multiple four stars and won at Pau in 2012 off his dressage score of 39.3, is capable of finishing on his dressage score and finished second here in 2011. With only three outings under his belt this season, the 16-year-old Spanish-bred gelding is primed for the occasion.

Qwanza, who finished fifth at Luhmuhlen back in June, will make her Burghley debut and is renowned for her talent across country in particular.



Mark Todd

Mark Todd


Tim Price


Jonelle Price


Pippa Funnell

Oliver Townend

Oliver Townend


Tina Cook

Sir Mark Todd will be looking to reverse his misfortunes in Rio, where he put paid to medal hopes with four fences down in the team show jumping round. Sir Mark will be riding his London 2012 ride NZB Campino, who finished seventh at Kentucky earlier in the season. The combination is likely to be amongst the leaders after dressage, having scored 39.1 at the London Olympics and regularly scoring in the 40s at four star level. Campino is consistent across country, having only picked up three jumping faults in his career, but usually collects up some time penalties as well. This is a combination that could well peak at the Autumn four star classic.

Eventing’s power couple Tim and Jonelle Price will also arrive at the Lincolnshire event following a slightly disappointing Olympic Games. Tim will ride last year’s Burghley runner-up Ringwood Sky Boy, and the inexperienced Bango. The former has not had much luck on his side this season, with falls at both Badminton and the Rio Olympics, but on top form he is a potential winner here.

Jonelle will partner the speedy Classic Moet. The 13-year-old mare finished inside the time at both Burghley last year and Badminton this season, so will be a pair to savour on Saturday!

British hopes:

Despite the absence of William Fox-Pitt, the British hopes will rest with proven top class partnerships. Pippa Funnell, who famously won Burghley in 2003 to complete the Rolex Grand Slam, brings forward Second Supreme. After a disappointing performance in Rio, Pippa will be hoping for a top ten finish with the talented 14-year-old. Second Supreme, the former ride of Poland’s Jaroslav Hatla, does not find the dressage phase particularly easy, scoring regularly in the 50s at CIC and CCI three star level, but has jumped a double clear in all completed starts with Pippa this season. They finished 11th in the ERM class at Barbury to finish on their dressage score of 50.7.

The in-form Oliver Townend, who won the ERM class at Blair last weekend, brings three horses to Burghley including the former Mary King ride MHS King Joules. Oliver, a former winner of Burghley with Carousel Quest, also has Samuel Thomas II and Dromgurrihy Blue entered to prove the selectors wrong following Rio. King Joules is arguably his most exciting ride here, and the pair scored 37.9 to lead at Bramham until the show jumping  – the pair’s weaker phase – where they had two down to drop to third place.

Another top British contender is Rio reserve Tina Cook with the exciting Star Witness. Eighth here last year on his four star debut, the 11-year-old finished seventh at Badminton and seems to relish the more testing tracks. Tina has worked hard to improve Star Witness’ dressage, scoring 47.4 and 49.7 at Burghley and Badminton, but the thoroughbred has shown plenty of ability so far in the final two phases.


Australian firepower:

The Australians have had a good record at Burghley over the years, with Lucinda Fredericks and Andrew Hoy winning in 2006 and 2004 respectively.

Andrew, who will be riding both his London 2012 mount Rutherglen and The Blue Frontier, nearly completed the Rolex Grand Slam in 2006, but fences down in the show jumping on Moonfleet put paid to his chances. Rutherglen, who was in the top four after dressage last year but was eliminated across country, has had slightly inconsistent form recently. He finished in 11th place at Luhmuhlen jumping clear across country but had three fences down in the final phase. If the pair can produce their best across the four days then they are likely to be in the top placings.


Christopher Burton

Christopher Burton, who returned from Rio with a team bronze medal and fifth place individually, looks to improve on his third and fourth place at Burghley last season. Riding Sue Lawson and Carolyn Townsend’s Nobilis 18 and Richard Ames and Alan Bell’s Ts Jamaimo, the Surrey-based rider is always competitive on the biggest stage and has an ice cool head to match his talent.

There is no more experienced horse in this year’s Burghley field than the 17-year-old Happy Times. Owned by Dinah Posford, Juliet Donald and his rider Sam Griffiths, the Heraldik gelding has finished third here twice in the past. Sam has produced increasingly polished tests with Happy Times, including 36.8 at Burghley last year and despite an unsual run-out, they are a pair to watch across country. Show jumping has been the horse’s Achilles Heel but he recently jumped clear to finish sixth at the ERM class about Barbury with a total score of 46.9.

Other notables:

Germany’s Bettina Hoy will hope to emulate Michael Jung’s victory from 12 months ago on the athletic Designer 10. The former European champion will be the only German representative in the field as Andreas Osholt has withdrawn his Badminton runner-up So Is Et.

Bettina, who famously scored 20.8 in the dressage at the 2002 World Equestrian Games, is renowned for her dressage skills and the pair have produced top quality tests, including at Aachen in July. The 12-year-old gelding, is a brilliant jumper, so the technical fences at Burghley should suit, but he is prone to the odd time fault. If the pair can finish on, or close to, their dressage score, then Germany could be looking at a second Burghley title.  

Following their gold medal success at Rio, it would be unwise to rule out any of the French riders competing here. Former World champion, Jean Teulere, produced one of the finest rounds at Badminton this year on Matelot Du Grand Val and, at the age of 62, is riding as well as ever. Last year’s seventh placed Cedric Lyard and Cadeau du Roi are also a crowd favourite and are capable in all three phases.                 

The dark horse?

Rosalind Canter and Allstar B caught many eyes with an impressive four star debut here last year. Scoring an excellent 40.2, they had an unfortunate stop on the cross country but finished with a show jumping clear round. This season the pair have produced some excellent results, including individual third in the Strzegom Nations Cup and fifth in the ERM class at Bramham. A horse and rider who have top-class potential.

Caroline Powell, who won the Burghley title with the wonderful Lenamore in 2010, has struck up a solid partnership with the former Lucinda Fredericks-ride Flying Finish. They have consistently scored in the early 40s at three star level, and achieved scored a personal best of 39.2 at Burgham Horse Trials in July. Time penalties across country have been the pair’s biggest nemesis, but Caroline is in her first season with this long striding horse and it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if they finished in the top ten.

How to follow Burghley Horse Trials:

The BBC will televise the cross country live on the red button from 11am-4pm on Saturday 3 September.

BBC2 will cover the highlights of the event, and the leading contenders in the showjumping, from 3-5pm on Sunday 4 September.

You can also follow Burghley on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for the latest news.


All photos © The Gaitpost

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