With cross-country day (5 September) looming for the top eventing combinations competing at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, many are turning their focus towards the challenging course ahead.

Horse & Hound talks to some riders following their dressage tests at this world-famous event to find out what they think of the new-look cross-country course, designed by Mark Phillips.

The reversal in direction of the cross-country course means that combinations face a completely new and totally different challenge to the one they have become accustomed to over the years at Burghley.

This year the iconic Cottesmore Leap comes as riders approach the four-minute mark after the long uphill pull from the Anniversary Splash. There is then very little let-up for the horses all the way to the finish line, making it an intense course and one that riders have described it as “huge” and “one of the biggest four-stars we have seen for a very long time.”

Oliver Townend, here with a whopping three rides (Dromgurrihy Blue, Armada and Samuel Thomas II) said that he had “never seen a course quite like it,” while Louise Harwood described it as “tough all the way — there’s hardly a let up fence.” Pippa Funnell said that it is “one of the most dimensionally big tracks” she has seen for a very long time, if not ever.

The provisional total length of the course is 6,370m with a provisional optimum time of 11 minutes 10 secs.

You can keep up to date with all of the action at Burghley live as it happens courtesy of H&H Live while videos of each rider will be available on demand shortly after they perform on Burghley.tv.

Full report from Burghley in next week’s H&H, out Thursday, 10 September — 17 pages of photos and analysis, including columns from Ruth Edge, Lucy Wiegersma and Mark Phillips.