The Right Line: 2015 Cross Country Preview from Burghley TV on Vimeo.

Burghley Horse Trials 2015: guide to the cross-country course

The cross-country course for the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials has a fresh new look for 2015 as the route has been reversed. Instead of heading into the main arena after the first few fences before taking on the challenge of Discovery Valley and the Leaf Pitt, this year riders will head straight to the Lion Bridge before the long climb up to Cottesmore Leap via Capability’s Cutting.

Course designer Capt Mark Phillips explains: “The riders had learnt how to [ride the course in the old direction]. This time they are going to have to employ a very different tactic. We know that if they ride too quickly in the first few mintues horses typically hit the wall at 8 to 9 minutes so this year’s course is a very different question.”

The first fence is the familar Olympic Horse Shoe, followed by Lambert’s Sofa in front of the house. Third is the chunky Picnic Table after which riders head down to a new boat house at fence 4a, The Lion Bridge, with a left-hand turn before it. Riders then drop down into the water and ride through the central arch over a boat in the water (4b), before heading briefly back on to dry ground.

At Anniversary Splash ‘In’ (5ab) there is a brush spread followed by a turn to a single skinny brush landing in the water. Horse and rider then gallop across the lake, over the island, which doesn’t feature a jump this year, before heading to a choice of challenging routes at the Anniversary Splash ‘Out’ (6ab, 7).

The big white sleepers at the Burghley Station at the bottom of the hill have been replaced by The Slate Mine (8) before riders travel up the hill to Capability’s Cutting (9, 10). There are two routes here, both feature a house before the steep road crossing with a difficult corner on the way out. The positioning of each ask slightly different questions of horse and rider. It will be interesting to see which proves more popular on the day with a very real risk of a glance off earning 20 penalties.

Riders then head on up towards the iconic Cottesmore Leap at the highest point on the course via the Rolex Grand Slam Viaduct (11) and Winner’s Avenue (12). Cottesmore Leap at 13a doesn’t look any smaller coming in the opposite direction and this year it’s followed by a skinny triple brush (13b) on five strides.

Horses then get a brief breather as they head down to the Land Rover Dairy Farm (14abc). This year a very upright gate welcomes riders at the top of the mound followed by an imposing spread that looks like you’re jumping into space. Once horses take off they will be able to see there is ground to land on, but it requires a leap of faith first.

This is followed by the Rolex Combination (15abc) which needs an accurate line if you aren’t going to land in the ditch followed by a turning four strides to a corner. Then it’s on to the fences 16, 17ab, 18 at the Maltings 360. Here riders have a big white oxer to jump before coming to a triple brush on a mound followed by a brush corner on three strides before heading out over a second big white oxer.

Horse and rider then jump the Captain’s Log at 19 before heading down to the Trout Hatchery (20abcd, 21). The question here begins with a curved brush spread, before dropping down into the water over a log, then a bounce up the step and over a log before running down into the second pond to a curved skinny hedge.

At Herbert’s Hollow riders gallop up to the hedge at 22a followed by an open oxer on six strides at 22b. Then they head downhill over Thomson’s Wall (23) to their first visit to Discovery Valley. Here are two angled brushes on one stride (24ab) to be negotated before heading out to the traditional Elephant Trap at 25. At the Leaf Pit (26ab, 27) riders jump the moon off a left turn with two strides to the famous drop, then run down the hill and through the Sun.

On the return to Discovery Valley riders have a chest (28) to negotiate on a fairly tight turn, or they can choose to jump the ditch as a hazard to make the line easier, before heading up into the main arena. Here are fences 29abc, Up & Under, which resemble a rugby pitch to acknowlege title sponsor Land Rover’s world wide partnership with the Rugby World Cup.

After negotating the stands and rugby ball, there are just the Flower Frame (30) and the famous Land Rover Finale (31) to negotiate on their way to complete the course. It’s exciting to see a really fresh new look to the course this year and I can’t wait to see how it rides.