Eight pairs to watch at Burghley – will one of these riders take the title?

  • Want to know who are the top Defender Burghley Horse Trials riders to watch at the upcoming five-star (30 August-3 September)?

    We’re here to bring you all that info…

    Burghley Horse Trials riders and horses: the top eight contenders

    List in number order, with info presented as follows:

    Number. Rider name
    Rider age, nationality

    Horse name, horse age, horse colour, horse gender, horse sire x horse damsire, horse owner(s)

    Form assessment

    9. Boyd Martin 
    44, USA

    On Cue, 17-year-old bay mare, Cabri D’Elle x Primitive Rising, rider, Christine, Thomas IV and Tommie Turner

    Boyd’s seventh place here in 2011 on Neville Bardos was a story of triumph over adversity as the horse had recovered having been caught in a serious fire at Boyd’s yard. On Cue, who was bred in Yorkshire by the Clanceys, pulled off a win at the first Maryland CCI5* in 2021. She hasn’t done a lot since, but recently won Bromont CCI4*-S, so don’t write her off.

    18. Ros Canter
    37, GBR

    Pencos Crown Jewel, 14-year-old bay mare, Jumbo x Rock King, Kate James and Annie Makin

    Local rider and new European champion Ros was 11th here last year on “Jasmine” and then ninth at Badminton Horse Trials, where Ros won on the mare’s half-brother, Lordships Graffalo. Pencos Crown Jewel was also fourth in the one-off five-star at Bicton Horse Trials in 2021 and has been in the top nine at four-star 10 times. A lovely genuine mare who has a great shot at a top-10 finish.

    20. Austin O’Connor 
    48, IRL

    Colorado Blue, 14-year-old grey gelding, Jaguar Mail x Rock Kind, rider and The Salty Syndicate

    Colorado Blue’s cross-country strength came to the fore in the wet ground at Badminton when he topped previous consistent results (13th at the Olympics, eighth at Badminton 2022 and 18th at the World Championships) with third place. Burghley is always a cross-country contest so another top three is very possible. Austin lives in Oxfordshire.

    35. Oliver Townend
    40, GBR

    Swallow Springs, 15-year-old grey gelding, Chillout x Cult Hero, Paul and Diana Ridgeon

    Swallow Springs has been third at Burghley with Andrew Nicholson, but fell here with Oliver last year and was pulled up at Badminton as he tired in the wet going. He built back with seventh at Luhmühlen Horse Trials and has a good chance of a top placing. Shropshire-based Oliver has won here twice, in 2009 on Carousel Quest and 2017 on Ballaghmor Class. 

    58. Tim Price 
    44, NZL

    Vitali, 13-year-old bay gelding, Contender x Heraldik xx, Alexander & Joseph Giannamore and rider

    It’s a mark of how good Vitali is in the other phases that he’s achieved three top-10 placings at five-star, including third here last year and seventh at Badminton this spring, despite 12 jumping faults in the final phase on each occasion. Could win if he can fix that last-day form. Dorset-based Tim, the world number one, won here in 2018 on Ringwood Sky Boy.

    63. Boyd Martin
    44, USA

    Tsetserleg TSF, 16-year-old black gelding, Windfall 2 x Buddenbrock, Christine, Thomas IV and Tommie Turner

    A stalwart of the US eventing scene, who has been second and fourth at Kentucky and claimed world team silver and Pan Am double gold. Probably past his best, but could pull off a late-career surprise. Boyd has two top-10 finishes at Burghley to his name and has completed every five-star in the world except Badminton, where he has started but fell.

    66. Tom McEwen 
    32, GBR

    Toledo De Kerser, 16-year-old bay gelding, Diamant De Semilly x Papillon Rouge, Fred & Penny Barker, Jane Inns and rider’s mother Ali

    The immensely talented but quirky Toledo has only been here once, finishing fourth in 2017, because he’s often been on British team duties in the autumn. The Olympic team gold and individual silver medallists will start among the favourites. Their record includes four top-11 placings at Badminton, victory at Pau five-star in 2019 and world team gold in 2018.

    69. Oliver Townend
    40, GBR

    Ballaghmor Class, 16-year-old grey gelding, Courage II x unlisted, Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan

    Second at Badminton this spring marked an eighth top-five five-star placing for “Thomas”, whose two wins at the level include one here in 2017. The pair were also fifth individually and Olympic team gold medallists in Tokyo. Showjumping can be the chink in this all-time great’s armour, but he shook that off with one down at Badminton and has a real chance of a win.

    For similar details on every Burghley Horse Trials rider and horse, plus score sheets to fill in as the week progresses, buy the magazine issue out Thursday 31 August or pick up a free copy when you buy a programme at Burghley.

    Horse & Hound has a team of reporters covering all the Burghley action. To keep reading on our website after five articles, readers will need to buy a subscription. Visit horseandhound.co.uk/join to buy a Horse & Hound website unlimited subscription or, for great value, visit magazinesdirect.com for a combined magazine and website subscription. If you are already a magazine subscriber, the cost to upgrade your subscription to include full website access is minimal – call 0330 333 1113 to find out more.

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