Former champion jockey AP McCoy is turning his hand to eventing at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials this weekend (31 August – 3 September).
The racing legend has been announced as the “rider” of World Horse Welfare’s surprise Burghley contender – 8.3hh Pamela.
The rescued Shetland has already been put through her paces by a host of top names in preparation for the CCI4*, with dressage, cross-country and showjumping training from Carl Hester, Mark Todd, Yogi Breisner and Tim Stockdale.
“Adding AP as Pamela’s jockey is the final touch in her bid to become the first Shetland pony to take on the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials,” said a World Horse Welfare spokesman.
“In a shock move, AP McCoy now plans to add Burghley to his extensive list of achievements, which already include wins such as the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.”
AP said he was looking forward to coming out of retirement and trying his hand at a different equestrian discipline.
“I don’t have much experience on the flat so the dressage might be a bit of a problem, but I’m very lucky to have a mount like Pamela so the four-star cross-country should be a walk in the park,” he said.
Pamela will be at the event every day and fans can meet her in the “celebrity talk area”.
Burghley event director Liz Inman said: “Pamela was certainly a surprise late entry and once we had recovered from the initial shock at the prospect of a Shetland pony ‘competing’ at Burghley, we can now see that Pamela is no ordinary Shetland pony.
“To have received the backing of so many equestrian stars goes to show just how talented this pony really is and we are delighted that Pamela has chosen Burghley to be her four-star debut.”
World Horse Welfare Hall Farm manager Sue Hodgkins described the Shetland as a “surprise superstar”.
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“Whilst we always knew she had excellent potential, I don’t think any of us could have imagined her taking part in such a world-class event as Burghley.
“For any event horse, taking on their first major competition would be a daunting task, but with the backing of a few equestrian celebrity coaches and not to mention a professional rider like AP McCoy to guide her round, I think Pamela is feeling pretty confident.”
Don’t miss full coverage of this year’s Burghley in next week’s H&H (7 September).