Tag Archive: Burghley Horse Trials

  1. Reflections on the Burghley Horse Trials

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    Who knows wether memories of the BUrghley Horse Trials simply fade as the years pass or are updated each Septemberbut each year the competition always seems the best one yet.

    This year, after a fabulous four days of exciting competition, we were privileged to see another great partnership win the Land Rover Perpetual Challenge trophy: Michael Jung, the first German to win Burghley, and his long-time partner Sam.

    With his immaculate record, Jung was always a favourite for the title, although his chances took a dramatic and literal dive when he and his first ride Fischerrocana went floundering in the Lake just 40 seconds into their round.

    Despite what must have been an unnerving experience, as well as a painful one — he was left with a considerable limp for the rest of the weekend — one has to admire and respect his determination to get back to the top of the leader board. He will also have earned many more admirers not only through his mannerly and positive attitude but also because of his (not previously seen) self-deprecating good humour over the episode.

    That the pair is pure class was proven when under the most stressful of situations, having no option but to go clear in the showjumping (who would have bet on Ringwood Sky Boy leaving all the fences intact?), they jumped a superb, faultless round.
    Sam and his stable-mate Fischerrocana now have a week’s holiday at the Yorkshire Riding Centre, home of the German team trainer and former British Olympic rider, Christopher Bartle, who has encouraged the Germans to come and compete in the UK more often. Jung is currently travelling the long road to Blair Castle for the FEI European Championships, where he will be aiming for a third successive individual European championship title.

    Where are our four-star horses?

    Considering the Brits were the biggest proportion of the field — 45 against 29 others representing eight nations — it was disappointing to see just six of them in the top 20, especially as there were 10 Antipodeans. This statistically translates to 13% of the British and 71% of the Australians and New Zealanders making the top 20. Looking at the completion rates, 57% of the British contingent completed, against 92% of the entries representing down under — their sole casualty was Andrew Hoy.

    Of course, there is the matter of the European Championships, which takes 12 of our riders, but even so Burghley is four-star as opposed to the Europeans being classed as three-star. So are our riders getting short of four-star horses?

    Kristina Cook was the highest placed Brit — I don’t expect she saw that coming — with her four-star debutant Star Witness, who not only survived a hairy moment at the Trout Hatchery but showed his mettle on the final day when jumping a great clear. Looks like Cook could have another team horse in the making.

    At 26, Wiltshire-based Georgie Spence was the highest-placed British rider under 30 years old, in 12th place with Wii Limbo. The pair, who achieved their third consecutive four-star completion, produced a great double clear and the horse looked fab throughout and even at the final horse inspection powered Spence down the runway.

    Blood to the fore

    That Burghley is a course for the experienced (rider) and favours the thoroughbred (horse) was yet again proven this year — even in perfect ground conditions. Rider success at four-star nowadays comes through experience while the undulations of the 11min 12 second course of 48 jumping efforts requires a horse with stamina and speed.

    Interestingly, seven of the top 20 horses were thoroughbreds and all were bred for the track. Just one was ridden by a Brit (Cook again) who is from a racing background. Perhaps the fact that the British seemingly no longer ride thoroughbred horses is a reason or the reason, why the British didn’t do well at Burghley.

    Image: Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam won the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR), sixth and final leg of the FEI Classics™ 2014/2015, by Trevor Meeks, courtesy of the FEI

  2. Michael Jung wins Burghley Horse Trials

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    Olympic champion Michael Jung was left to reflect on what he described as an “amazing” feeling after winning the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

    Jung became the event’s first German champion in its 54-year history after delivering an ice-cool showjumping clear round aboard his London 2012 gold-medal-winning ride La Biosthetique Sam.

    Jung, leader after cross-country, knew he could not afford a mistake as New Zealander Tim Price left all the fences up with Ringwood Sky Boy to stand just 1.5 penalties behind the German master.

    But Jung, as he has done so often during his stellar career, produced the goods when it really mattered as he captured Burghley’s £63,000 top prize two years after being denied victory at Badminton, when he had the final showjumping fence down.

    The ultra-consistent Price had to settle for second, while Australian Christopher Burton completed a superb weekend’s work by finishing third on his recently crowned Gatcombe British Open champion TS Jamaimo — and fourth aboard Haruzac.

    Price’s wife, Jonelle, riding Classic Moet, was fifth, meaning that that New Zealand’s most celebrated eventing couple left Lincolnshire boasting a combined prize fund of £61,000.

    “It is amazing,” said Jung, whose attention will now turn to the FEI European Championships at Blair Castle in Scotland from next Thursday, when he will defend his individual title, and Germany the team crown.

    “Burghley is a very big competition with a big tradition — it is a very famous event — and to win here is absolutely perfect.

    “It was a very good showjumping round. The horse felt very powerful during the warm-up — he gave me a very good feeling — and that helps a lot when you go into the arena.

    “To be at Burghley and ride two horses on the cross-country was amazing. It is a wonderful place, and to win this competition is one of the highlights in my career.”

    The highly-fancied combination of Mark Todd and Leonidas II finished sixth, just in front of Frenchman Cedric Lynard and Cadeau du Roi, with 2009 European champion Tina Cook the leading British rider in eighth spot on Star Witness. Badminton 2014 winners Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh were ninth, and six-time Burghley winner William Fox-Pitt was 10th aboard Fernhill Pimms.

    Fox-Pitt will now spearhead the British medal challenge at Blair Castle aboard Bay My Hero, but with Fernhill Pimms, his enviable string of horses now includes another four-star performer.

    “I am delighted with him,” Fox-Pitt said. “Hopefully, he will come out next year a stronger horse, and I am really looking forward to it. He has been absolutely fantastic here.”

    Cook, meanwhile, is likely to aim Star Witness at Badminton next year, and she added: “He is only a 10-year-old, and you never know when they go into an arena like that whether they might freeze or have an unlucky pole down, but he went in there and made it feel really easy.

    “I wanted to bring him here to see if he could move up (the leaderboard) after dressage, and he did that.”

    Burghley results: 1 – Michael Jung (La Biosthetique Sam) 40.0, 2 – Tim Price (Ringwood Sky Boy) 41.5, 3 – Christopher Burton (TS Jamaimo) 45.0), 4 – Christopher Burton (Haruzac) 47.6, 5 – Jonelle Price (Classic Moet) 48.9, 6 – Mark Todd (Leonidas II) 50.5, 7 – Cedric Lynard (Cadeau du Roi) 50.8, 8 – Tina Cook (Star Witness) 52.6, 9 – Sam Griffiths (Paulank Brockagh) 57.7, 10 – William Fox-Pitt (Fernhill Pimms) 58.6.

    Image: Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam during the cross country at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, sixth and final leg of the FEI Classics, by Trevor Meeks, courtesy of the FEI

  3. Fox-Pitt and Jung are neck and neck at Burghley Horse Trials

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    Two of the most successful riders in eventing history — British star William Fox-Pitt and German master Michael Jung — will lead the way into Saturday’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials cross-country action.

    The pair could not be separated after dressage reached its conclusion on Friday, with Fox-Pitt and Fernhill Pimms matching Jung and Fischerrocana FST on 34.2 penalties to set up a thrilling weekend’s action. The German rider is also equal seventh aboard La Biostethique Sam, along with countryman Niklas Bschorer and Tom Tom Go 3.

    Australian Sam Griffiths and the ultra-consistent Happy Times lie third on 36.8, with Andrew Hoy and Rutherglen fourth, while 2009 Burghley champion Oliver Townend is equal-fifth aboard Armada with current top New Zealand challenger Tim Price, riding Ringwood Sky Boy.

    Nine combinations posted dressage scores of under 40, which is believed to be unprecedented in Burghley’s long history, but there are likely to be significant leaderboard changes after a cross-country examination that Townend describes as “the toughest Burghley I’ve seen.”

    Former world-number-one Fox-Pitt, who has won 14 four-star crowns during his stellar career, delivered a serene dressage test on his four-star debutant, and was understandably delighted afterwards.

    “Fernhill Pimms is very able in the dressage — he has done some fantastic dressage tests during his career,” said Fox-Pitt, who is chasing a seventh Burghley title this year.

    “I certainly hoped he would do well, and I am very excited that he did a test like that in this kind of company.

    “Saturday is a big day. He might be up for it and be brilliant, or he might be green. It is nearly a championship course.

    “The questions are there in front of you, so it is about getting into a good rhythm, reading your horse and reading how he is feeling. It’s a long way round.”

    Townend and the brilliant cross-country exponent Armada would appear to be in a very strong position, given their dressage score of 38.7, and the Yorkshireman has two other rides in Dromgurrihy Blue and Samuel Thomas II.

    “Everyone knows that Armada is a very good cross-country horse, touch wood,” Townend said.

    “It is the toughest Burghley I’ve seen. Badminton two years ago, with the rain also, was fairly huge, but this is the biggest Burghley in my memory. I am looking forward to it.”

    Price, meanwhile, backed Townend’s assessment, adding: “No matter how good a horse you are sitting on, a course like this one on Saturday is so demanding that you need to be good and the horse needs to be on form.

    “There is a magical feel when you arrive at Burghley each year — then you walk the course and it gets very serious and very real.”

    Image: Burghley House by Jason BallardCC BY 2.0


  4. Fox-Pitt and Jung battle it out at Burghley Horse Trials

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    Even the dressage, quite often a formality at these events, is getting exciting at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. While there are just another 10 left to enter the arena for the first phase there is plenty of opportunity for some more changes to the leader board as there have already been this morning.

    Michael Jung and Fischerrocana still sit at the top but have been joined, on exactly the same score, by British favourite William Fox-Pitt and his Burghley debutant Fernhill Pimms. Sir Mark Todd, Sam Griffiths, Tim Price and Frenchman Cedric Lyard have all also helped rearrange the overnight top ten.

    The question now is will Jung and his Olympic veteran partner La Biosthethique Sam overtake the leading score and give him the sole lead again? We will know in just 90 minutes.

    Meanwhile, while the action has been hotting up in the main arena, ring two is hosting the Dubarry Burghley young event horse finals. This morning was the turn of the best five-year-olds and at the end of the class it was Tiana Coudray who held the Dubarry Boot trophy. The British-based American had a convincing win with her own and Dr Liz Williams’ Irish Sport Horse mare Cavilier Crystal. The pair led from start to finish and along the way was awarded the best score in the jumping phase, as well as the top mark for suitability and potential from final phase judge Jane Holderness Roddam.

    Second placed Treworder also looked a top horse in the making, which is just what his breeders, Vin and Elizabeth Jones, had in mind six years ago when they put the mare Welton Lady (a BYEH winner in 1996) in foal to the German eventing stallion Grafenstolz. The 17hand Treworder, who also won the prize for the best British-bred, grew in confidence around the jumping course, a mix of coloured poles followed by cross-country fences, and really showed his mettle with a ground covering gallop in the final phase.

    BYEH regular Nicky Roncoroni made the top three again, this time with Monbeg Medlar, another to have been bred in Ireland who gained high marks for conformation and type.

    It was a high quality top ten and as Jane Holderness Roddam said after ” I would quite happily have taken any of them home.”

    Right now, the four-year-olds are taking centre stage in Ring Two and Michael Jung is warming up Sam. While I know the four-year-old final always attracts a great number of young horse and breeding enthusiasts, I have a feeling that it will be standing room only round the main arena as everyone is becoming riveted by this exciting competition that is unfolding right now.

    Image: William Fox-Pitt by Russ Harner, CC BY-SA 3.0

  5. Meet William Fox-Pitt’s Burghley horse, Fernhill Pimms

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    William Fox-Pitt believes that his 2015 ride, Fernhill Pimms, ticks one of the most important boxes at any Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials — the one marked bravery.

    The 11-year-old gelding will make a four-star debut at the showpiece Lincolnshire event, having risen impressively through the ranks.

    And while British star and former world-number-one Fox-Pitt acknowledges the challenge ahead, starting with dressage on Friday, he is looking forward to seeing how the 2013 Blenheim CIC3* eight- and nine-year-old winner responds.

    “I have got a good little horse,” said Fox-Pitt, whose enviable portfolio includes six Burghley titles collected between 1994 and 2011.

    “He is quite inexperienced, but he is a brave horse, and if he is up for it then there is no reason why he can’t jump around.

    “This is his first four-star, and while I believe it is a big test for him, I also believe he is ready.

    “He can just be a little bit cheeky, and if he is not being cheeky, then he should go really well.

    “In other four-stars now, you can maybe get away with a horse that has a lot of talent, but perhaps not so much courage, but at Burghley you need courage.

    “You also need them to be fit because it is going to be a demanding cross-country day on Saturday, come rain or shine.”

    Image: A fence inspired by the Rugby World Cup at Burghley Horse Trials, by Nixon Photos, courtesy of Burghley Horse Trials