The welcome news that Nicola Malcolm is back at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials after her fall yesterday allows us look back on yesterday and reflect on other people’s performances and aspects of the cross-country without a shadow hanging over us.
I can’t remember a time when we’ve had 11 pairs clear and inside the time — and one, Andrew Nicholson and Avebury, remarkably in the time with a run-out — at Burghley. I don’t think there has been such a high number once in my six other years working here.
The course did prove slightly softer than sometimes and with perfect conditions, more horses than normal were able to stop the clock inside the 10min 55sec optimum.
That’s no bad thing — that Burghley remains a true jumping contest is not in doubt, with three of the top 10 after dressage dropping well down the order, the leader failing to finish and lots of riders making gains of 20 places or more through good rounds. France’s Eddy Sans rose from 60th after dressage to 23rd with a clear inside the time on Mayland De Brunel.
Plenty of British first-timers were impressive yesterday, none more so than Lauren Shannon, who brought one horse (Quixotic) home with one stop and the other (Zero Flight) clear and close to the time. Emily Llewellyn continued her run of amazing form and Laura Collett bore the pressure of her eagerly-awaited four-star debut, riding sensibly for a jumping clear on the hard-pulling Ginger May Killinghurst.
Lower down the leader board, Nicola Wilson, Alice Pearson, Lauren Yallop, Adrian Little, Kerry Varley, Hannah Kirkhill and Kate Walls all jumped clear with varying numbers of time-penalties. It must be quite a feeling to cross that finish line — Angus Smales, yesterday’s pathfinder, described it as “as high as you can get”, and he’s done it before.
Yesterday morning in the Celebrity Talk Area, I predicted Lenamore (Caroline Powell), Seacookie (William Fox-Pitt) and Sir Percival III (Francis Whittington) as our top three at the end of the day, and fortunately that wasn’t foolish as Lenamore and Sir Percival went clear inside the time, while Seacookie was just 4sec over it. In fact, they lie first, third and seventh.
I’d love to see Lenamore win this afternoon — he’s at his 10th British four-star with Caroline, having also started here with owner Lexi MacKinnon who produced him through the grades, and so deserves that big title. He’s been fifth and eighth here, and fourth, ninth and 12th at Badminton. Let’s hope that characteristic trot-up bounce means he’s planning to pick his toes up in the final phase.
Log back onto www.horseandhound.co.uk later to find out the final result and don’t forget to buy H&H next week (9 September) for a full 10-page report from Burghley, including comment from cross-country course-designer Mark Phillips.