All eyes will be on Pippa Funnell and Zara Phillips (pictured) at the Burghley Masterfoods Horse Trials, which gets underway today.

Pippa is on course to win a record third consecutive four-star event and a bonus $250,000 for achieving the Rolex Grand Slam. Statistically, the odds are against her – it is difficult enough to win one four-star – and both Supreme Rock, with whom she won Badminton for the second year running earlier this season, and Cornerman have been sidelined.

However, Pippa still has Denise Lincoln’s Primmore’s Pride, the horse that gave her the first leg of the Grand Slam, at Kentucky in the USA in April.

Zara Phillips makes her four-star debut at the age of 22, a year older than her mother, Princess Anne, was when she won the European title at Burghley in 1971 on Doublet. Two years later, Zara’s father, Capt Mark Phillips, won Burghley on Maid Marion. She is the first rider to compete at Burghley with two parents that have both won the event.

Zara rides Toytown, who carried her to fifth place on her senior debut in Luhmuhlen in May. The partnership also won the 2002 national young rider title plus a European silver medal.

Other strong contenders at Burghley are New Zealanders Blyth Tait and Andrew Nicholson, plus American world champions David O’Connor, Amy Tryon and John Williams.

Blyth rides Eze and Andrew has the choice of his 2000 winner and 2001 runner-up Mr Smiffy, Astronave or Lord Killinghurst, who is back at top level after a long layoff.

Best British riders include Mary King with the experienced King Solomon lll. Mary won Burghley in 1996 on Star Appeal and her tremendous record at this level includes never being outside the top four.

Leslie Law, who has been second, third and fifth at Badminton, has the experienced Shear H20, while last year’s winner William Fox-Pitt rides his Bramham runner-up Ballincoola. Polly Stockton, the runner-up on Word For Word last year, has Eye Spy II, while Tina Cook rides Archrival.

British selectors will also be watching the Lottery-funded Potential squad riders Sarah Cutteridge and Lucy Wiegersma, plus the senior team reserve Polly Jackson on Limestone Rise.

This year marks the retirement of Bill Henson as event director and the final year of Masterfoods as sponsors.

For more information visit: www.burghley-horse.co.uk

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