Coming just two weeks before the European Championships in Punchestown, which will siphon off many top combinations, one might have expected Burghley to have toned down last year’s giant-killer of a course.
But this is a pre-Olympic year, the reigning World Champion American team is coming – and Pippa Funnell (pictured) is going all out to clinch the Rolex Grand Slam bounty. So course-designer Wolfgang Feld has merely refined his track to offer a world-class challenge.
Wolfgang is on a three-year contract and laid down the flavour of what he wanted in his first year. In this, year two, there are tweaks where last year there were major changes.
The promised removal of the Burghley Bank, thankfully, has happened. I misread this monster last year, thinking it would ride roughly but all right. Sixty combinations later, it had proved rough – but not all right. There was no correct way to ride it and good negotiation seemed to rest largely on each horse’s natural action.
Along with some useful fine-tunings around the course, there are eight new fences.