With the Olympics fresh in the memory, many Athens rivals will be coming together again tomorrow to battle it out for the four star crown at Burghley Horse Trials.

Olympic gold medallist Leslie Law will be competing Shear H2O, the older brother of his Olympic ride Shear L’eau. The combination will be hoping to improve on their 11th place here last year.

There is a no show from Olympic silver medallist Kim Severson, although there is strong representation from the American camp, with youngster Will Faudree, who went to Athens with Antigua as the American travelling reserve, making his first outing at the Lincolnshire event.

Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt will both be vying for glory with their reserve Olympic mounts, Cornerman and Ballincoola. Fox-Pitt and Ballincoola scored their best four star result to date this spring at Lexington, and will be aiming to sustain that form, while Pippa Funnell feels the weight of Olympic bronze around her neck as she returns to defend the Burghley title.

There is a large international contingent, with the likes of Andrew Nicholson, Dan Jocelyn, and Andrew Hoy leading the Antipodean ranks. Bettina Hoy has also promised to make an appearance as she supports her husband, although she is hardly looking forward to the trials of facing the eventing world for the first time since the eventing medals debacle.

The youngest rider to start will be Oliver Townend, who rides one of only two stallions entered for the event. The other is Internet, ridden by New Zealander Kate Hewlett, who looked fantastic at Badminton and the combination finished in fifth place at the British Open Championships at Gatcombe last month.

Wolfgang Feld has certainly not disappointed in 2004 in his third and final year as Burghley’s course-designer (Mark Phillips returns to the role next year). Feld has a distinctive style and manages to incorporate a little of his own heritage into Burghley’s quintessentially English parkland setting – this makes the cross-country course all the more interesting.

Some may imagine that the course will be kinder this year because of the proximity to the Olympics, but riders should not assume that Feld would have thought this a valid reason for making concessions. He still has a top-class field to test and my first impressions when walking it with course-builder Philip Herbert suggest that there is plenty to jump, particularly during the early part of the course.

“If I could offer a tip to anyone riding this year’s course, it would be: ‘Don’t underestimate the influence of the terrain'” writes Ginny Elliott.

The dressage gets underway early tomorrow morning, with the cross country on Saturday and the show jumping finals on Sunday.

  • Click here for a Burghley course walk
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    £1,000 worth of Harry Hall Clothing (the winner selects the clothing)
    A brand new QUAD bike, worth £1,200.

    Tombola style (a few prizes each day):

    • A years supply of NutriScience products (up to the value of £500 each) x4
    • 500 Tubs of Staytite Cooling Gel
    • 500 Nutrilyte Syringes
    • 20 Serious Horseplay Computer computer game packs (Equestriad & Mary King Riding Star)
    • 6 x Cavesson bridles with tack tray full of Hydrophane cleaning products
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