Bettina Hoy predicted a 2016 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials that will be “all about cross-country” after taking charge on day one in Lincolnshire.
German star Hoy, whose horse, Designer 10, had twice secured top-20 finishes at Badminton but never before contested Burghley, proved a class apart as just over half of the 71-strong field completed their dressage tests.
Hoy posted a score of 34.5 penalties to lead the way from Australian Bill Levett, riding Improvise, on 42.5, with early starter Paul Sims and Glengarnock holding their own for third spot overnight on 46.6. Immediately behind Sims are American Elisa Wallace (Simply Priceless) on 46.8, followed by Rosalind Canter (Allstar B) 47.0 and New Zealander Jonelle Price (Classic Moet) 48.5.
Hoy, who was fifth with Designer 10 at last year’s Badminton Horse Trials, said: “The horse is now very established at this level. He really tries to concentrate, and he did pretty much everything that I asked him to do.
“He felt very good. We are really getting in the tests what he can do at home. Some horses get very affected by the atmosphere, but he was excellent in the arena.”
Reflecting on his impressive performance, 31-year-old Sims said: “It was definitely his best four-star test to date. I’m feeling confident. We’ve been here three times and Glengarnock’s a reliable cross country horse – so long as I don’t make mistakes.
And Canter said, of Allstar B: “He’s always good in this phase; he’s got a level head, but we made a couple of mistakes in there this time, which was frustrating. Being here is just as exciting as last year, even though there are a couple of things I’d like to go back in the arena and do again.”
Dressage continues on Friday, and the leaderboard is likely to look a whole lot different going into Saturday’s cross-country phase.
Among the Friday starters are Britain’s Oliver Townend – the Yorkshireman rides Samuel Thomas II and MHS King Joules – GB Rio travelling reserve Tina Cook, on Star Witness, plus multiple Burghley winner Andrew Nicholson (Nereo), Mark Todd (NZB Campino), Rio individual bronze medallist Phillip Dutton (Fernhill Fugitive) and Australians Sam Griffiths (Happy Times) and Chris Burton (Nobilis 18).
Hoy added: “It is a very big cross-country course, as you would expect at Burghley. It is one question after another.
“I have led with previous horses after dressage, so I know it is about taking things step by step.
“Every day is different, and this is definitely not going to be a dressage competition. This is all about cross-country.”
Bettina Hoy on Designer 10 at Burghley, by Trevor Meeks, courtesy of the FEI