Burghley Horse Trials blog: success is catching

  • It’s a curious thing how the success of one horse on a yard can seem to rub off on its stable-mates. Last year Clayton Fredericks’s wife Lucinda won Burghley Horse Trials. This year, less blond but almost as pretty, Clayton was the first-phase leader.

    “I’m disappointed. I’m sure there were more people here last year to listen to Lucinda,” jibed Clayton at his post-test press conference.

    In the interim, Team Fredericks has won Badminton and Lexington.

    But for a while, it seemed the conventional format of the best dressage tests occurring on the second day might be blown away. Three-quarters of Friday’s riders performed their tests in blustery conditions, and still no one bettered Andrew Nicholson’s Thursday mark on Lord Killinghurst.

    Then arrived Clayton Frederick and Nullabor, a great big bull of a horse who is apparently a bit of a pig in the stable — and broke the 40pen barrier. Clayton may lack his wife’s grace in a dressage saddle, but increasingly he’s matching her prowess in this discipline, and rode the counter canter especially with immeasurable tact. Now he will face added pressure — or incentive, depending which way you see it — across country tomorrow on the horse he scratched at Badminton. This will be Nullabor’s first four-star attempt in Britain.

    With the European Championships only a fortnight away, the 2007 Burghley Horse Trials field may not be a vintage one, and it may be a tad cooler here than we’d like, but Burghley retains its customary buzz. It’s one of the most visitor and shopper-friendly events of them all.

    The ground rarely cuts up and there’s even a Pedigree-sponsored lacky topping up the doggy watering bowls alongside the Members area. Surprisingly stylish crowds meander between gourmet food and funky clothing stands, and today’s must-have invite is to the book launch of William Fox-Pitt’s new autobiography.

    Tomorrow, style makes way for the rough and tough of cross-country. I’ll be tackling it in trainers with a three-wheeler baby buggy. I just hope I’ve done enough fitness work for the hills.

    Click here to read a report of this afternoon’s dressage action.

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