“Friday is shopping day,” said the lady sitting next to me at breakfast this morning. This year at Burghley Horse Trials I’m doing the B&B experience — it’s a bit like being on the set of Heartbeat. Remind me to book next year’s accommodation now, when will I ever learn?
As good as the shopping is, yet again, this year, if she didn’t get into the arena she will have missed a great day of dressage that came to an exciting conclusion in the last two hours as the final 14 riders battled against the ever increasing wind.
The textbook rounds began with Caroline Powell who leapt into first place with a score of 45.2. The judges were having trouble finding the 8 and 9 buttons for Caroline’s test and if they’d been a bit more generous, who knows what score she might have ended on.
Minutes later Andrew Nicholson (pictured) rode what Sally O’Connor described in her commentary as a masterclass round, taking him into first place on 45 marks. His reign was almost as short as Caroline’s though, as Oliver Townend and his 14-year-old Carousel Quest secured their overnight victory with flying changes to die for.
Still no shopping for me, it was then a quick dash around the 6000m cross-country course to make the most of the late evening sunshine. Mark Phillip’s new course, if shorter, is packed full of small changes that could catch out the less than careful or over confident competitor. To the spectator it will feel very different and I’m anticipating an exciting day’s sport. Don’t miss H&H’s eventing editor Pippa Roome’s up-to-the minute coverage if you can’t be here.
Where will I park my picnic rug tomorrow? Well the Leaf Pit, minus its set-up fence this year took my breath away — goodness knows what it will do to horse and rider tomorrow.
The Trout Hatchery, that old favourite, will require riders to spend a lot of time in the water and — as I realised listening to two contenders working out their route (they shall of course remain nameless) — is quite confusing. Finally, even Mark Phillips is impressed by what he’s done with the Waterloo Oxer — so I think that’s where you’ll find me — if you’ve any B&B recommendations for next year.
Visit www.horseandhound.co.uk/burghley2009 to find all H&H’s online Burghley coverage, replay our live dressage coverage and register for an email reminder for tomorrow’s up-to-the-minute cross-country commentary.