Entries are now closed for the Pedigree Burghley Horse Trials (30 August – 2 Sept) and, as anticipated, Europe’s only four-star three-day event, has received a massive response.

Entries stand at 147 and, although there are likely to be a few drop outs due to natural wastage, plus a handful redirected to the forthcoming European Championships, there will still be a bigger field than usual, especially as the FEI ruling on a competitor having three rides has been relaxed.

Director Bill Henson has, currently, pledged to give everyone a run, so there is likely to be some dressage taking place on Wednesday, 29 August also.

Adding extra spice, there will be a team competition,which will benefit non-European nations who do not have a championships of their own this year. This means that Burghley has been chosen to test the proposed new Olympic format, with two show jumping phases.

Team results will be decided by the first round and the top placed 20 or so riders will jump again for the individual results.

The advantage of this formula for the Olympics is that the competition can revert to one cross-country day and one competition in which all the best horses and riders in the world compete. It also fulfils the Olympic criteria of a separate test per medal.

American riders, who are headed by Olympic and Lexington champion David O’Connor on his three-star winner Rattle & Hum, start probable favourites for the team competition – they are sending over a huge entry of good horses, including three of their Olympic squad.

The Kiwis miss, for the first time, Mark Todd, but they have last year’s winner Andrew Nicholson with three rides, including his 2000 winnerMr Smiffy, the 1998 winner Blyth Tait with two horses and Dan Jocelyn with a new ride, Dalliance, who has been placed at four-star level with fellow New Zealander Caroline Powell.

Triple Olympic gold-medallist Andrew Hoy is also giving Burghley a miss, but two of his team mates, Matt Ryan and Phillip Dutton, have very good chances of individual glory.

William Fox-Pitt heads the British entry with a total of five entries. The most interesting is the chance ride Springleaze Macaroo, on whom he is deputising for an injured Katie Parker.

William will be backed up by Pippa Funnell on Cornerman, Vere Phillips, fourth last year on Coral Cove, Ian Stark on Rangitoto, Karen Dixon on The Honourable Bob and Uptotrix, Tina Cook (nee Gifford) on TheGangster or Captain Christy and, of course, the 1996 winner Mary King, with Star Appeal and King Solomon.

Riders have just two advanced events to prepare for Burghley: Hartpury College (August 11-12) and Thirlestane Castle (Aug 18-19).

Box office enquiries: (tel: 01933 304744); Information line: (tel: 01780 766868 or visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk

For full preview see Eventing magazine (September)