Blyth Tait, who has won Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials twice, is sharing his views on this year’s cross-country course exclusively with Horse & Hound readers in today’s magazine (23 August), and in our online videos.
Here are his thoughts on two of the key fences on course…
Land Rover Trout Hatchery (fence 11abcd, 12ab)
This, the main water complex, is going to take a lot of walking so that competitors can work out which of the several options suits them best. There are three pools of water to negotiate and a variety of options testing accuracy, bravery, line, focus and responsiveness to choose between.
There is one route that is obviously the shortest, and those who really want to win will take it. It’s high-risk, but if you want the winner’s cheque you have to accept that you’re going to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Once you have wasted five seconds, you’ve opened the door to someone else.
There will be plenty of mixing and matching of long and short routes here, I think. It’s a clear question, however — I don’t like surprises for horses and, although they need to be accurate, they can read this.
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Joules at the Maltings (fence 14abcd)
The straight route here consists of a massive white oxer on a bending five strides to a gigantic, nearly 90°, corner, then four forward strides to another corner. If riders lose momentum over the first corner and have to go on five, the second won’t come up so well. The ground falls away behind the oxer, which requires pace and power.
Horses will need to be very confident and true to their riders, and I can see less experienced combinations choosing the circuitous long route — although those who do need to understand the rules about crossing their tracks in combinations.
Read Blyth Tait’s thoughts on every fence on the cross-country course, plus ratings and his overall impressions, in today’s Horse & Hound magazine (dated 30 August). Full Burghley form guide also included in this issue, with vital stats and H&H’s expert assessment of every combination competing.