|Mark Phillips | Burghley Course Designer|
I’ve always thought the course at Burghley rides so much better than it walks, which I think is all credit to Mark Phillips, whereas the course at Badminton walks better than it rides, which is no bad thing and makes it all the more interesting. There is so much to play with at Burghley with regards to terrain and natural features, and whilst there are always a fair few fences where, if you’re not careful, you can be on the horse’s mouth a lot, it does always deliver a nice flowing ride.
Quite apart from all the ooh and aah moments, it’s been very interesting reviewing all the cross country footage and seeing all the different styles of riding and the differences between the horses.
Watching Mark Todd is always inspirational, as he just sets a rhythm, keeps the horse balanced with less interference than you see in many other rounds. His horse, Major Milestone, is a monster of a horse at 17.3hh with a massive stride, and whilst it’s been through the hands of Owen Moore, Oliver Townend & Bill Levett previously is only 11 and this is his first 4*. A very green run for the horse, which rapped a number of fences, and one interesting think I noticed was Mark patting the horse on the neck on the way into the trout hatchery, where plenty of others had their whips out.
Andrew Nicholson, really has his work cut out with Armarda. I don’t think there would be too many people that could get this horse placed at 4*, he has a really bouncy stride approaching the fences, and likes to be the one to set the pace, a real steeplechaser! His ride on Avebury in comparison was a little more relaxed overall, in spite of ploughing through the first element of Discover Valley.
Emily Llewellyn is probably one of the best riders on the circuit at the moment, and still so young! I’d say this horse was quite a strong ride, but well worth watching these two go round. I think if she is to have any chance of getting on the London 2012 team though , she’s going to need to find an exceptional horse, or significantly increase her number of 4* rides over this winter.
|Ruth Edge | Lost Her Lead|
I was very sad to see Ruth Edge fade away on the cross country, as I think she really could make it on to a team with a little more help. To harsh though, I just couldn’t see her completing after watching her through the Discovery Valley. Both here and in the two sections of the trout hatchery she had unbalanced herself and the horse to point where the horse had lost all confidence. I think riding one handed into the first element of a tree part complex, whilst wielding a stick, is always going to be ‘winging it’!
Last year’s Winner, Oliver Townend, rides with experience beyond his years. He kept his horse in a nice easy rhythm pretty much all the way round, chasing only make a perfect stride approach to a few fences, and I didn’t once see him sawing on the horse’s mouth, this sort of riding takes plenty of practice but is always rewarded with trust from the horse.
Others to watch are William Fox-Pitt, Pippa Funnell – and the controversy at the Leaf Pit, Mary King, and Jean Luc Goerens – pay special attention at Discovery Valley.
I leave you with one final comment; go watch Caroline Powell & Lenamore on Burghley TV, this is how cross country looks at the top of the sport! Or as they say on Masterchef “it doesn’t get better than this”