Ginny Elliot is an eventing legend; with more medals under her belt than seems believable for a girl who was eliminated from her first ever pony club event.
She won her last Burghley back in 1989 on Master Craftsman, and her last Badminton (on Welton Houdini) in 1993, yet she still remains one of the best-known personalities in the eventing world.
Since retiring from the eventing front line, Ginny has made a name for herself as a respected point-to-point trainer, as well as giving hugely popular lecture-demos, course-walks and clinics. She also does some training of event riders.
But for someone with such a phenomenal track record of success as a competitor, one wonders how it must be to return to major events as a spectator. In the run up to Burghley, we ask Ginny about her successes there, and how it feels to be seeing events from out of the saddle.
You won Burghley five times in total, on Master Craftsman, Murphy Himself, Night Cap and twice on Priceless. Does any one of those wins stand out as a particular favourite?
The first win on Priceless as this was also my first 4* win and it was a big relief to win as I could say I’d won a 4* at least once in my career.
Whilst you are famous for your successes at the big events, there must have been some bad moments. Do you have any unpleasant memories of competing at Burghley?
Yes – the first time I rode there on Tio Pepe. I was lying 11th and he jumped a fantastic clear in the show jumping but I forgot to jump one of the fences and so was eliminated. I would have jumped up to 5th if hadn’t, so a silly mistake brought me bitter disappointment with no one to blame but myself.
Looking at the course now and in the past couple of years, has it changed much in terms of scope and questions asked since the early 1990s?
No – I think the fences are very much on a par with how they used to be, the main difference is that the ground conditions are now as near to perfect as can be found.
If you could choose to compete at Burghley 2003 riding any one of today’s big equine event stars, who would be your choice?
It would have to be Supreme Rock or Tamarillo
As a competitor, did you have a particular favourite part of the course at Burghley (apart from the finish)?
The last fence.
What is your favourite part of the course now you are no longer competing?
The Arena fence is my favourite as you can watch some of the action ‘live’ as well as following the rest of the course on the big screen.
How are you planning to spend your time at Burghley 2003?
Walking the course with spectators on Thursday, judging the 4 and 5 year old Burghley Young Event Horse competitions on the Friday and the rest of the time shopping!
Who will your money be on to win this year?
It’s a lottery – there may be a handful of ten riders who could all win Burghley, including Pippa, William, Jeanette, Polly Stockton, Leslie Law to name a few… You can never predict who’s going to win as so much can happen over the four days of competition