Burghley Horse Trials start today near Stamford, Lincolnshire, England. A fixture on the International eventing scene since 1961, Burghley has always had a reputation for being a tough course that is a true CCI****. By all accounts, this year’s course should make the Olympics look like a walk in the park.
While most of us can’t attend the event in person, here’s your chance to take a course walk (actually a drive) with Captain Mark Phillips, the course designer. The video is posted on the home page of the Event. However, with concerns about safety rampant this year, there already is controversy about the difficulty of the course, and whether issues such as safety are being compromised by continuing to test the limits of horses and riders. It will be interesting to see how it rides.
You get a real sense of the fitness level of these horses when you see them trotted out, here courtesy of Horse & Hound. William Fox-Pitt is remarkably tall. He’s the only one who isn’t dwarfed by those horses!
Fox-Pitt won the event last year on Parkmoore Ed; he also won in 2005, 2002 and 1994. To date, only two riders have won Burghley five times: Virginia Holgate Elliot and Mark Todd. As for their mounts, only one horse has won twice: Priceless, ridden by Ms. Elliot in 1983 and 1985.
Only two Americans have won this prestigious event: Stephen Bradley, on Sassy Reason (1993) and Bruce Davidson on Irish Cap (1974). In 2008, there is only one American rider: Philip Dutton after Stephen Bradley’s horse, Brandenburg’s Joshua, was spun at the first veterinary inspection.
Here are some highlights from Cross Country in 2007. I wonder what happened to the rider pictured at 1:14 . . . it appears that his/her stirrup leather broke mid course.