*Exclusive* Mark Todd walks Burghley Horse Trials cross-country course

New Zealand’s double Olympic champion Mark Todd has recently announced his retirement from eventing.

He visited the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials to assess the cross-country course, designed by Mark Phillips, exclusively for Horse & Hound

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Fence 10abcd and 11ab: Land Rover Trout Hatchery

Mark Todd says: “This, the main water complex, consists of three pools of water to negotiate. There are a variety of options testing accuracy, bravery, line, focus and responsiveness.

“The first part is a rail oxer perched on a slope, then a run down to more rails in the water. I think there’s a risk of 11 penalties for breaking a frangible pin here; it’s the type of fence where horses might shut down behind, so it would be worth considering the longer but safer option of a house instead of the oxer.

“There’s a nice log into the second water and, as ever, it’s about riders’ choice of line to the seemingly innocuous step up before the final sets of rails. Riders have to be decisive, positive and accurate — they mustn’t end up on a half-stride. The direct route should ride well but there will be plenty of variation, I think.”

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Fence 14abcd: Rolex Combination

Mark says: “Slightly different to last year — the 
apparently direct route is a left-handed 
corner cleverly situated near the ropes on 
four strides to a narrow rail angled over a ditch, with a further four to a second corner. 
I prefer the option of a right-handed corner 
to a ditch on a bounce stride to rails, then a left-handed corner.

“I think it should be very nearly as quick and it’s a safer, slightly more straightforward option, although the fact that the ‘Vicarage Vee’ over the ditch jumped well last year will encourage riders to tackle it.”

Don’t miss Mark Todd’s thoughts on every fence on the Burghley course in today’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (dated 29 August), plus course map and dressage test. Next week’s Horse & Hound magazine (5 September) contains the second part of our preview, with a full form guide detailing every horse and rider competing, plus score sheets for you to fill in.