Rising to the challenge at Burghley

  • The new-look cross-country course at this year’s Burghley Masterfoods Horse Trials will demand bold riding from the world’s top riders

    This year’s Burghley Masterfoods Horse Trials looks set to be as good as ever, despite many top horses being absent due to its close proximity to the World Equestrian Games.

    However, this has not put off a record entry of 130, including many of the world’s top riders, who will be vying for the £20,000 first prize and the prestigious Masterfoods trophy.

    As well as four-star international eventing action, Burghley’s shopping remains unrivalled and visitors to the Horse & Hound stand (B25) can submit their entry into the “Win a Stable Company stable block competition“, as well as taking advantage of special Burghley subscription offers.

    On Friday 30 August, William Fox Pitt will be giving 30 lucky Horse & Hound readers an insight into the challenges posed by the course during an afternoon course walk, followed by an a short autograph signing session at the Horse & Hound stand. Wine and nibbles will be available.

    Mary King will be conducting a course walk at 2.30pm on Thursday 29 August, in association with NFU Countryside, which will be running a competition to win a Suzuki ATV worth more than £3,500 at the show. The company will also be hosting demonstrations by Equine MuscleRelease Therapy (EMRT) practitioners and behaviourist Michael Peace during the event.

    Baileys Horse Feeds is also organising a course walk with Karen Dixon on Friday 30 August for 20 lucky winners. For your chance to take part, visit www.baileyshorsefeeds.co.uk before the 27 August and enter your name, address, telephone number and email address in the pop up box.

    On show jumping day visitors can take part in Burghley’s first “Dogathon” – a charity dog walk which aims to gather a record breaking number of dogs in one place on one day, while raising funds for the National Canine Defence League and the Animal Health Trust.

    Ginny Elliot’s thoughts on the course

    It’s demanding, technical, big . . . and fantastic. What’s more, it is very different. Wolfgang Feld and his course-builder Philip Herbert must be congratulated on producing a really challenging course for the Masterfoods Burghley Championships, the like of which has not been seen since the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    While incorporating some narrow and tricky obstacles that will need accuracy, this genuinely tough four-star course has large, solidfences that will require bold horses and an attacking attitude from riders.

    Wolfgang Feld has made his own mark on the Burghley parkland, and it is wonderful to see the return of a big, old-fashioned cross-country course. With a staggering 26 new fences from a total of 32, competitors will have plenty to digest.

    Change is not just limited to the course, as enormous effort and expenditure has been made to ensure improved facilities and information. For the first time at the event, there will be an electronic scoreboard as well as a highly sophisticated tracking system for everyone on the course, utilising microchips in the bib-cloths of each rider.

    For the safety of riders and spectators, the entire course is now fully fenced off, and spectators will not be allowed to go up to the jumps and have a look, but must stay within the roped areas. Only competitors and their trainers can walk on the track.

    This year alone has seen £60,000 spent on irrigation equipment, which brings the total recent investment to more than £110,000 lavished on turf that would be the envy of a championship golf course.

    Click here to view the Burghley timetable

    Read Ginny Elliot’s fence by fence guide to the course in this week’s Horse & Hound (22 August), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.


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