This year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials cross-country will be a “very different” experience for riders, with the course being run in the opposite direction to normal.

The change will see all the major combinations tackled in the opposite direction to before. The Lion Bridge and the Anniversary Splash will come early — at fences four and five — with the Leaf Pit and arena fences being some of the final challenges of the course.

Course designer and H&H columnist Mark Phillips said that it was “time for the change” after three years of a similar course.

He also believes the reversal will provide further challenges for riders aiming to get inside the tricky Burghley time.

At last year’s event, winners Andrew Nicholson and Avebury were the fastest combination of the day but still picked up 5.6 time penalties.

“I actually think the change could make the time even more difficult to get,” Mark said.

“On the old design riders understood you could be down on the clock at the midway point and still make up the time.

“This way around you don’t have the galloping time at the end of the course. Riders will have a different challenge.”

No combinations made it inside the time cross-country at Badminton, the World Equestrian Games (WEG) or Burghley last year and all three courses had relatively low completion rates.

Despite this Mark maintains that there is “not a trend” for stronger courses.

“There is no intention for this,” Mark said. “There was not a bad fence at Badminton it was just the collective combination of difficult fences that lead to the low completion rate.

“The issues at the WEG were footing related and at Burghley I possibly had one too many turns in the Dairy Mound combination, which made the time tight.

“Some of it is weather dependent — if it is wet a four-star track looks bigger. I think you will see an easier Badminton track this year.”

Ref: H&H 26 March, 2015