Burghley seems to have hit the jackpot again this year in terms of weather — it’s sunny here, with the prospect of it being set fair for the week.
As other events have struggled with terrible rain and had to cancel because of waterlogged ground, Burghley has drawn a bigger crowd than on last year’s first day of dressage today and the team are preparing to aerovate the track on Friday. Course-designer Mark Phillips, who was also lucky at Gatcombe, looks like he can’t quite believe it.
At lunchtime, Burghley director Liz Inman admitted she has been telling everyone it was going to be a wet Burghley, as she thought their fortunes must turn after the last two years. The tradestand holder who sells wellies was delighted, but in fact, it’s ice creams which are in order today. Liz, whose association with the event goes back many years, was remembering one occasion when the mud in the tradestand area was so deep it was almost over spectator’s wellies.
I haven’t had a chance to get out on the cross-country course yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Yogi Breisner has described it as “definitely a proper four-star track” and riders say it’s big, with plenty of places to run off. Apparently the first half is particularly tough.
Mark Phillips reported that he and Yogi had a conversation earlier today when Yogi said that the sport is not the same as it was five years ago. The dressage and show jumping are more difficult — and here we have a cross-country course that is a little bit more difficult too.
With 73 starters, ranging from first-timers at four-star to the world’s best, it’s a tantalising prospect. Fingers crossed we can have an exciting — as well as safe — cross-country day. As third-placed Caroline Powell said at the press conference tonight, bring it on.