We are still on a massive high from an epic weekend at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials that was full of drama as the Brits took on the rest of the world. Our hearts went out to Team Fox-Pitt following a navigational error and we felt for Michael Jung as he limped his way to victory following his uncharacteristic fall at the water.
Needless to say, the bravery, guts and determination that was displayed was exceptional and to all the riders and horses who completed, whether seasoned professionals or making their debut at 4* or at Burghley, we congratulate you. Commiserations to those whose day didn’t go to plan. We look forward to seeing you in action again soon. And to Christopher Burton, if we are allowed a Man of the Match, it is you – so humble and yet so thrilling to watch.
To the relief of fans the world over, there were no serious injuries to either horse or rider – more worrying was the damage to many a bank account following a weekend of shopping that Burghley provides so well. All the usual Burghley sights were there to enjoy, the pooch parades, the book signings, the celebrity talk areas, Rugby World Cup fever – even the weather behaved to make this a weekend that remains the highlight of our calendar.
We heard from some of the riders after their round as they shared their experiences:
US rider Lynn Symanksy praised the “awesome” crowds and felt she had ridden according to her plan. For Paul Tapner, the reversed track didn’t feel any different but Vanir Kamira had been a bit dazed by the huge crowds on the Lion Bridge. Northamptonshire-based rider Jodie Amos was delighted to get such a “seriously testing track with no let-ups” under Wise Crack’s belt and was thrilled to get across the finish line on such an “intense and technical” course. It wasn’t to be Beanie Sturgis‘ day or Andrew Hoy’s, who was fine after his fall, although “mentally a little hurt.”
Sir Mark Todd gave us many a hairy moment: “It wasn’t the polished round I had hoped for, but we got round.” Todd explained Leonidas II had drifted to the left quite a lot and put in some enormous jumps, “he has so much scope and is so honest and I am pleased I am home.”
An elated Tina Cook was really pleased to be home safe and dry. “It is always exciting to come to a 4* when you have produced a horse from nothing. Star Witness really helped me out today as it was a difficult big track. You had to attack it.”
William Fox-Pitt was delighted with Fernhill Pimms, who was making his 4* debut at Burghley. Speaking about his hold on course, William explained that at that stage in the course it was too late to be beneficial for the horse. A day of mixed emotions having missed a fence but ridden back to jump it losing crucial time, he spoke of being “very sad to have let him down – there’s always a first, it has never happened before.” Despite the error, William felt it was great to have a change in the course direction and felt the reversed track was more testing. “The beginning was very slow. I had to play catch up the whole way round.”
NZ rider Jonelle Price, who blasted round in the fastest time of the day on one of our favourite horses Classic Möet, said she has been worried when she had first walked the course but felt her horse had been “pretty perfect the whole way round and come home full of running.”
Speaking at the press conference at the end of the day, course designer Captain Mark Phillips revealed he had been pretty nervous, “I am a relieved and happy man tonight.” He had expected more problems and thought there would have been more than the final 12 who had had to walk home. There had been some surprises as well – he had not seen the 4 strides at the Cottesmore Leap or the 3 strides at the Rolex Combination, and he felt the Trout Hatchery was “more forgiving than I thought it would be.”
Asked if the course would remain this way round, Captain Phillips explained that it costs a great to change a course like Burghley: “I can promise you one thing, it won’t be bigger next year!”
Sit back and enjoy our photo gallery of the action that unfolded both on and off the course.
We must say a huge thank to the Press Office for looking after us so well over the 4 days and also to Lucy Hall for capturing the action below.
All photos © The Gaitpost (click to enlarge)