Friday 9th of April 2021

Christopher Burton finds new star

Christopher Burton, who is sure to spearhead the Australian team effort at the Rio Olympics next month, had the perfect send-off with a win in the St James’s Place CIC3* at Barbury International Horse Trials on Polystar l.

C Burton 1

Chris Burton and Ploystar 1 at the St James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials © Adam Dale

Burton was left with a comfortable lead when Pippa Funnell and Gemma Tattersall, first and second after the showjumping phase, withdrew their potential Rio horses, but he made the cross-country look easy and finished with a winning margin of 6.3.

British riders Nicola Wilson, on the mare Bulana, and Sarah Cohen on Treason gave chase in a thrilling finale and finished second and third, just one-tenth of a penalty apart.

Another Australian, Paul Tapner, was fourth and fifth on Kilronan and Vanir Kamira.

Burton only got the ride on the 11-year-old Polystar l this season, after the horse’s Swedish owner, Michaela Sandberg, sent him over to be sold. Burton said:

“I only came here to show him his first three-star competition, not to win! But I was impressed with his stride and scope – he’s got quite a bit of thoroughbred blood – and he’s got a good attitude. The course was twisty but I had a great ride. It’s good to see some changes.”

Nicola Wilson was also on a mission – to get the feisty black mare Bulana, a winner at Boekelo last year, to listen to her and to come back to the hand. She said:

“I’m hugely relieved. Usually when her feet touch the ground after a fence she’s off, but today I thought: ‘My god, we’re actually in a rhythm.’ It was such a joyous feeling – she gave me a beautiful ride.”

Third place was a great thrill for Sarah Cohen, as Treason is now her only ride; after a stellar career at the highest level, she devotes most of her time now to looking after her two children.

“Beanie Sturgis [fellow rider gave me a right talking to and told me to get a move on. I’ve ridden this horse for ten years and have always believed in him. He’s still got it – I just wanted to make sure I’ve still got it.”

Forty-five of the 60 cross-country starters completed with 37 clear rounds, only four of which were within the optimum time, including sixth-placed Michael Owen on Bradeley Law.

Kristina Cook, who took a spectacular dunking in the main water complex, withdrew Billy The Red from fifth place.

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