Australian Christopher Burton delivered a dominant display to win this year’s headline class at the Barbury International Horse Trials in Wiltshire.
Burton, riding Polystar I, cruised home by more than six penalties on a final score of 42.2 to land the CIC3* title.
The combination were among just four from 60 starters to record cross-country clears inside the time, with overnight leader Gemma Tattersall and second-placed Pippa Funnell among those who withdrew after showjumping.
Great Britain’s Nicola Wilson was second on Bulana, with Sarah Cohen and Treason third, while Burton’s fellow Australian Paul Tapner was fourth and fifth on Kilronan and Vanir Kamira, respectively.
Reflecting on his victory, 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.”
Meanwhile, 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.
“I’m hugely relieved,” Wilson said. “Usually, when her feet touch the ground after a fence, she’s off, but today I thought ‘my God, we are actually in a rhythm’. It was such a joyous feeling – she gave me a beautiful ride.”
And third place was a great thrill for 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.
Cohen said: “(Fellow rider) Beanie Sturgis gave me a right talking to and told me to get a move on. I’ve ridden this horse for 10 years and have always believed in him. He’s still got it – I just wanted to make sure I’ve still got it.”
The third leg of the Event Riders Masters series also concluded at Barbury on Sunday, with victory going to Wiltshire-based New Zealander Andrew Nicholson and his London 2012 Olympics ride Nereo.
Nicholson, a regular winner of the Barbury3* with recently-retired former Burghley champion Avebury, led after showjumping and then delivered a trademark cross-country masterclass, going clear inside the time.
It means that Nicholson finished on a score of 39.6, taking top spot by an emphatic margin from Tapner and Yogi Bear VIII, while Tattersall and Santiago Bay took third and Dani Evans (Smart Time) fourth.
So far, the ERM competitons at Chatsworth, Bramham and Barbury have been won by riders from three different countries – France, China and New Zealand.
Image: Christopher Burton, by Henry Bucklow/Lazy Photography, CC BY-SA 3.0