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.
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 The former European champion will be the only German representative in the field as Andreas Osholt has withdrawn his Badminton runner-up So Is Et.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