So far, so good. It’s all going to plan at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, although British first-timer Rosalind Canter has sprung a bit of a surprise — but more on that later.
As predicted, Michael Jung and Fischerrocana (pictured above at yesterday’s trot up) are in the lead with a healthy score of 34.2. It was not a flashy test, but a solid, well-ridden test, fluent, rhythmic, obedient with proper transitions and totally accurate and pleasant on the eye. Basically, it fulfilled the requirements of dressage and all three judges gave him 9 for his riding, which in itself is very telling.
Jung, who is normally quite economical with words, was relatively verbose after his test. “She was very relaxed and gave me a very good feeling,” he said. Jung has already done his first course walk but was not drawn into airing his first impressions.”I will need to walk several more times but it is a lovely track but very up and down.”
Andrew Hoy, one of the older riders in the field and a winner here in 1979 and, more recently, in 2004 (Moonfleet) also produced a lovely test from Rutherglen, perhaps more eye-catching in terms of movement and expression, but not as accurate or consistent. The pair still scored a good 37.8 and are currently second at this early stage of the competition. However, they are going to have to dig deep to reproduce their former good form cross-country. Their last four-star completion was Luhmuhlen 2014 — the pair retired here last year and parted company at both Badminton and Gatcombe this year.
British Burghley first-timer and almost local rider, Rosalind Canter, who is from Louth, in Lincolnshire, gave everyone a wake-up call with a test on Allstar B that scored 40.2. Impressive for a 29-year-old who is riding at her first four-star. She is, however, no stranger to Burghley, being a regular in the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse final, which she won in 2011. She has also had success at the World Championships and has a three-day win, Osberton CCI one-star, under her belt. Her test, like Jung’s, was consistent, rhythmic and accurate, without errors.
“I am over the moon,” said Rosalind. “I was nervous as I went in but he is so steady and trustworthy in the dressage and a good horse to have for my first four-star.”
British-based Australian Christopher Burton also rode a tidy test and currently lies fourth on Haruzac, an Australian thoroughbred, who is competing for the first time at the level. Fellow countrymen Sam Griffiths and Paul Tapner are both not far away and in equal fifth place, Griffiths with the mare and former Badminton winner Paulank Brockagh and Tapner on Vanir Kamira, also a mare and also another four-star debutante.
Image: Michael Jung and Fischerrocana by Nixon Photography, courtesy of the Burghley Horse Trials