Could there be a more exciting place to be than England right now? Less than one year to what promises to be the most exciting Equestrian Olympics we’ve seen for generations. The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials entry list illustrates the influx of foreign riders, basing themselves here or simply visiting to step up their competition experience in the run up to the games. This event or Pau is likely to be the last 4 star event where any of the big Olympic certainties are given a run, and there are more flags from other nations next to the names in the entry list than we’ve seen for decades. So perhaps, more than any other, celebrating 50 years of Burghley, makes this year all the more special.
The draw is always a little tongue in cheek at these big events; one, because riders often run two horses, so these two mounts need to be spread down the running order, and two, because what better way to hold the crowd for the entire day than to slip one or two of the very best in at the end. I predict this will be a Burghley to remember, not necessarily because there is an exceptionally strong field [there is every year], but because there are so many new foreign faces, many of whom have never ridden over what looks to be the most imposing course we’ve seen at 4 star for some years, so we’re bound to see a few run outs and refusals throughout the day.
Unsurprisingly, my money is on the back end of the field. Although I don’t think I’ll be taking too much of a break in the middle of the day as there will be some very interesting combinations going through, some of whom have travelled the furtherest to be here. The witty and amusing Australian, Hamish Cargill, will be on course mid afternoon, and this fiery little brown horse has flown all the way from Australian, via Kentucky, and a number of other obscure locations to be here (Anchorage?, was that really necessary!).
|Hawley | Focussed|
Of all the vistiors I think Hawley Bennett-Awad on Gin & Juice is likely to end up highest placed at the end of Sunday. This horse must have amassed more air miles than any other this year. She flew from Californian to Badminton and pinged round that like it was a gymkhana. Flew to Montana and won the big CIC*** there and is now back here again. This pair were also a real lynch pin in the Canadian silver medal success at WEG, and Hawley seems super focussed at the moment.
Of the British rising stars, I do hope Laura Collett has a good Burghley, to make up for her disappointment at Luhmuhlen last weekend, and I’m sure there’s a Chinchilla stroking blogger on the east coast of the states who’ll be cheering her on too! Personally I’ll be watching Kitty King on High Havoc, as this is a horse I have some interest in, and I’m keen to follow his progress up the grades.
|Calma Schelly | Withdrawn|
The on form Germans have had two of their very impressive Badminton runners withdraw. The stallion, LePrince de Bois, one of few to take the direct route at the open corners at Badminton, and Calma Schelly on whom Marina Kohncke briefly lead after cross country, until an adjust of times put Mark Todd ahead.
This does still leave the Germans with 2 runners in the line line up, Simone Deitermann on Free Easy, and Anna Warnecke on Twinkle Bee, both with some mixed form at this level.
Some at Badminton often lament the lack of varied terrain that Burghley enjoys, although that track produces some of the most challenging fences for a horse, like the skinny angled rails over the vicarage vee. Burghley this year, from the little I’ve seen, has surpassed all previous years in building something, a little scary, and full on. Mark Phillips has fully exploited the rules in relation to maximum width and height of fences, and been very canny in his use of almost unnoticeable undulation, and the use of colour and contrast, all of which gives the rider and horse a significant challenge in reading the each fence just right. More of a challenge than the physical ability to actually jump the fence.
More than ever I really think this promises to be the best Burghley for 50 years, and a golden year to be based in the UK. The action starts today so get here if you can……