Durham-based event rider Jamie Atkinson, last competed at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in 2001, where he was riding two horses; Colonel Mellish and Babiole Du Cochet. Unfortunately they were retired and eliminated on the cross-country respectively, and Jamie hasn’t been back to the world-famous four-star event since.
“Back then I had five or six advanced horses and I thought that getting to Burghley was as easy as that,” says Jamie, who was 25 at the time.
Now he is entered once more, this time on Kate Ginks’, Mark Tracey’s and Jamie’s Celtic Fortune, or ‘Rory’ as he is known at home.
“This must be about the fourth time we have entered Rory at Burghley,” confesses Jamie. “He has been slightly plagued with injuries, but hopefully we’ve got that under control now.”
Jamie is referring to the “rare” and “freak” ligament injuries Rory has suffered with in two of his legs.
“The vets hadn’t seen many injuries like Rory’s and he ended up having an operation after Blair Horse Trials last year,” explains Jamie, of the event where the pair finished sixth in the CCI3*. “We have learnt over the years how to best manage him and we now do less galloping and a lot of swimming at Howard Johnson’s pool.”
Jamie, who events full-time, bought Rory as a four-year-old, 10 years ago.
“He did very well as a young horse,” says Jamie, eluding to the fact Rory was 10th in the CCI3* at Bramham as a nine-year-old, among other strong results.
Jamie says that Rory can be “tricky”.
“He’s a very good jumper but likes to have a good spook. And when you first bring him out to work, he leaps about but then calms down and ends up being lazy,” he laughs. “He can be difficult on the flat, especially as he’s older and wiser now — he knows when he is in the ring that he can get away with more things — he’s a bit of a monkey.”
The pair head to Burghley on the back of a good run in the CIC3* at Bramham in June.
Meet the horse that 'bucked like billyo' and…
“He jumped round a fairly testing cross-country track and made it feel so easy that it was almost boring.” confesses Jamie. “It’s nice to be going back to Burghley — I love the venue and I would love to go and jump a double clear. But really, just to get Rory there would be a huge achievement and I would be pleased to come back safe and sound.”
Don’t miss H&H’s Burghley preview issues — course walk with Mary King and interview with event director Liz Inman in this week’s issue (dated 24 August) and 16-page pull-out with form guide for every entry in the following issue (dated 31 August).