Dundee is currently feeling very pleased with himself and we are very pleased with him too! I am over the moon that we managed a clear cross-country round at our first four-star, even if we were the slowest of the day.
After losing control on the cross-country at Thirlestane, there were going to be no heroics at Burghley! I rode him early this morning to make sure he wasn’t too full of himself, and then went to look at the course changes that had been made due to the ground conditions.
In past he has sometimes been a bit wild in the collecting ring, but today he behaved impeccably. We set off steadily and he felt really polite over the first three fences. Then we got to the leaf pit and he launched off it. As soon as we landed I knew there was no way we were going to make the straight route so we cantered straight past and took the long route instead.
Initially the judges gave us 20pen for a run out, but I appealed and we got that removed. I’m pleased they did as he deserves a clear four-star cross-country round on his record.
We got a massive cheer when we jumped the straight route through Discover Vallery. Apparently a number of people had had problems there before us and it was a great boost to hear the crowd behind us and know he was holding his line so well.
He was brilliant through the Trout Hatchery. I really lost my balance over the brush and nearly took his back teeth out, but he knew where he was going and just kept on jumping. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for that.
We jumped the Maltings on three strides and he held his line brilliantly, and he sailed over the big Rolex table and skinny on the direct route. We took the long route at the Dairy Farm as I didn’t fancy the direct corner.
Before I knew it we were at the massive Cottesmore Leap, but he so bold that he just locked on and made it feel ridiculously easy. At Capabilities Cutting he landed running from the first log so I immediately changed plan and took the corner on the long route.
He made the white rails at the bottom of the hill feel ridiculously easy, and I really set him up for the goose in the water. I didn’t want him to leave a toe on it, but he jumped really cleanly. I also had a lot of respect for the first mushroom and he was foot perfect over that.
I had always planned to circle at the first of the Arena Fences but after seeing Andrew Nicholson come to grief at the last element I decided to circle for that as well. I played ever so safe, but it was such a big deal for me just to get here and get round.
He felt really confident the whole way and was full of running at the end of the course. We made a bit of a hash of the second last but he absolutely pinged the final fence.
He has come out of it really well. His legs look ever so good and there isn’t a mark on him. I’m probably going to be the first one in to the show jumping tomorrow, but that doesn’t matter to me — for me this is all about completion with a happy and sound horse.