The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (1-4 September 2016) is a highlight of the equestrian calendar. Whether you are horse-mad or not, Burghley is an event like no other (especially when the weather behaves!). You need look no further than the attendance figures — approximately 160,000 people grace the hallowed Lincolnshire turf during the four days of competition each year.
However, with so much on offer at this year’s horse trials, it can be hard to decide what to do and how to please everyone in your party at the prestigious four-star event. So here is our top 10 tips to help you make the most of the 2016 event.
1. Indulge yourself with breakfast in the Members’ area
From a full English breakfast to all-butter pastries, fuel yourself for the busy day ahead in the comfortable Members’ area (which happens to have great loos too!). A four-day Members’ pass costs £185; this includes two four-day admission tickets, one four-day car pass, two Members’ enclosure passes and admission to the members area of the north grandstand on Thursday and Friday. For more information, visit burghley-horse.co.uk/Tickets/Membership
2. Watch future stars in the Burghley Young Event Horse final
Friday sees the final of the Dubarry Burghely Young Event Horse (BYEH) class. Head over to ring two and settle down for the day, if you so wish, with a picnic to watch the culmination of the four- and five-year-old classes. The stars of tomorrow will be going head-to-head and it really does make for fascinating viewing. Previous winners include double Olympian Miners Frolic and winner of three different four-stars Primmore’s Pride.
3. Join a celebrity cross-country course walk
Every year, the number of cross-country course walks at Burghley seems to increase. Booking yourself onto one will give you the opportunity to see the impressive jumps before the throngs of crowds descend on the course on Saturday, and you will also get the inside scoop on how the riders are planning to tackle the 30+ solid fences. Keep an eye on the internet as course walks are announced in the run-up to the event.
4. Get the full Land Rover experience
Often a hit with husbands and boyfriends, petrol heads and rugby fans can get their fix at Burghley too. The Land Rover Experience features a purpose-built off-road course in its most extreme form, providing a taste of legendary Land Rover off-road performance with passenger rides in brand new vehicles. There is also a mini version for children where they can “drive” a remote controlled Defender around a miniature course. Don’t forget that if you are a Land Rover owner, all you need to do is show your keys to enjoy complimentary food and refreshments in a special hospitality area.
5. Book dressage tickets with headsets
With a great view of the dressage action and the live scoreboard, grandstand tickets complete with headsets really round off your viewing experience. Expert commentary will guide you through every test which appeals to both novice and advanced dressage fans. For more information on grandstand tickets, visit burghley-horse.co.uk/Tickets/Grandstands
6. Wander down to the Celebrity Talk Area
Located in the Exhibition Village, you are almost certain to see one of your equestrian heroes being interviewed in the Celebrity Talk Area. Don’t miss your chance to get some background knowledge from behind the scenes and perhaps ask them a question too. For updates on who will be talking when, keep an eye on the Celebrity Talk area Facebook page in the run-up to and during the event.
7. Cast your eye over the trot-ups
On both the Wednesday afternoon and first thing on Sunday (if you’re a morning person), watch the riders present their Burghley mounts to the ground jury in the main arena. Some riders use this as a fashion show and to prove that they really can look good in an outfit that doesn’t include jodphurs! Super-fit horses and sky-high heels are not always a match made in heaven, which can provide some light entertainment.
Of course, Burghley wouldn’t be Burghley without the vast number and variety of shops available for you to spend far too much money in! With more than 500 traders, from all-things horsey to bespoke tailors and furniture, there is something for everyone — if you’re really organised you could even get all of your Christmas shopping done! Don’t forget there is also a large Food Walk, which caters for all tastes from fruit juice to cocktails and baklava to scotch eggs. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it…
9. Find the collecting ring
If you want to get away from the crowds, but still be in on the action of the competition, wander down to the collecting ring. On Thursday and Friday competitors tend to do the majority of their dressage warm-up by the Lion Bridge. Arena two is where the cross-country start and finish line is located on Saturday — the buzz is palpable and I defy you not to shed a tear or two as competitors cross the finish line. If you can’t find a spot to watch the showjumping in the main arena on Sunday, walk behind the open stand, where you can sit and watch the final phase of competition unfold.
10. Watch the action again and again
When everyone has packed up and gone home and you’re left with that empty post-Burghley feeling, an extended TV highlights programme of the competition will be availble for you to download to your PC, Mac or Android. The programme will also include an exclusive winner’s analysis and full results, so is not to be missed. Visit burghley.tv for more information. And of course don’t miss 8 September issue of Horse & Hound for our exclusive analysis of the all the highs and lows of the competition.