We’re all systems go, go, go for the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials this week!
I’m a bit of a realist so haven’t really indulged too many ‘excited’ thoughts about Burghley in case things go wrong, which can happen all too often with horses and life. But with less than 24 hours to go before we leave, I’m now allowing myself to look forward to it all.
The most important thing at this stage is that the main man, Mr Miley (Absolut Opposition) is feeling in great order and we’re both feeling ready for our challenge ahead. We are maybe short of a prep run but he is a consummate professional who really knows his job these days and so I’m quite relaxed about going there having not run since Barbury.
Trying to manage the best plan of action for a horse is a constant and ever updating set of equations. To briefly explain my thought process: I was planning on taking Miley to Blair for his pre-Burghley prep-run as not only is Blair a superb event with great courses, most importantly for Miley it always has his preferred good to soft ground.
I then vetoed this in favour of Wellington due to the travel distance and cost, but with that Bank Holiday weekend turning into a scorcher and the ground having no choice but to dry up, we made the decision not to risk jarring him at this stage. He is 14 years old now and although we’re lucky enough that he has remained injury-free during his career, he’s a big horse who throws his heart into his jumping, so I try to be careful with his management.
Instead of Wellington, we built a set of technical fences/corners/lines in the school and had a really good jumping session, which I felt tuned us up a treat! There a many advantages to being based at William Fox-Pitt’s fabulous Dorset yard — the facilities (including the on-site gallops) are second to none and the professional vibe/atmosphere on the yard is absolutely brilliant, which is all credit to William, Alice and their superb team.
The banter on the yard about Miley winning this week amuses me, but again, I’m a realist! We’re not going to be troubling the top 10, but if everything falls in to place, we are capable of a good, solid result. Things don’t always work out for even the best horse/rider in the world with the best preparation, so we go into the week knowing that anything could happen. But having previously completed Badminton twice, plus Pau and Burghley, the goal will be to gain our best five-star performance to-date and finish in the top 20.
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Whatever happens, I am relishing the opportunity to be back competing at the top level at one of the very best events in the world, with my best friend and home-bred horse, Miley, who has been so integral to my rehabilitation over the past year and more. I am so very grateful for all the support I’ve received on so many levels — from those close to me, to the readers of these blogs who’ve been kind in lots of ways, including so many lovely messages, but especially to the ‘Miley’s Friends’ syndicate members who’ve been instrumental in helping making this latest journey possible.
I’m planning on keeping you all updated with daily blogs this week so will keep you posted!
Keep up with all the action with our online reports, picture galleries, videos and blogs during Burghley — and don’t miss our special Burghley report in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale 12 September 2019