Burghley Horse Trials first-timer realises ‘childhood dream’ – wearing a bracelet in honour of another very special horse

  • Burghley Horse Trials first-timer Phil Brown speaks to Horse & Hound about realising his ‘childhood dream’ and why there were two horses with him when he passed the cross-country finish line on Saturday.... *please be patient for video to load*

    Five-star first-timer Phil Brown realised a childhood dream by completing the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials on his debut – with two very special horses with him as he crossed the cross-country finish line.

    The 35-year-old, who hails from a non-horsey background, was given a hero’s welcome as he completed his clear cross-country jumping round with the 14-year-old Harry Robinson on Saturday.

    “The whole week has been incredible. It’s a childhood dream, I think it’s every Pony Club kid’s dream even to get here. Even just to arrive at the gates with a fit, sound, healthy horse ready to start is an achievement in itself,” said Phil.

    “So to have the week I’ve had, with a personal best in the dressage, clear round yesterday and, yes, a few poles fell today, but that would be his tricky phase. I couldn’t be more over the moon with him.”

    Phil, who is originally from North Yorkshire, has been living in Stamford, next-door to Burghley, for the past two years.

    “My parents aren’t horsey at all. They are both very supportive, but Mum in particular absolutely loves it,” he said, with a laugh.

    “We can see Burghley House from our yard, so if that’s not motivation to get here, I don’t know what is.

    “I was maybe a little bit over the top when I came through, but it was just the elation to even finish from that dream of getting here to then to jump a clear round. The cheers from the crowd, being local, was just amazing. It all came out when I crossed the finish line.”

    He found his love of cross-country riding through Pony Club tetrathlon and didn’t compete at his first affiliated event until he was 18. A year with Ruth Edge confirmed that this was the career path for him.

    His five-star achievement is made all the more special as his dream has been on ice for six years. In 2016, Phil came within a whisker of riding at the iconic five-star. Fate had a different plan, but his 2022 achievement carries a poignant connection to that year.

    “I had a wonderful horse called Miss Brodie, I actually wore a bracelet of her hair when I went cross-country yesterday – she’s still with us, but she’s 20 now,” he said.

    “She qualified to come here in 2016, then a rule change meant I had to go and do another long-format [four-star]. She picked up an injury at that. She did come back from that, but to four-star so we never quite finished that five-star dream. Being from North Yorkshire, my initial aim was Bramham and she achieved that for me. I thought maybe a five-star is possible, it’s taken six long years to do that – and Harry has just done that for me.

    “Weirdly, when I got the draw and saw I was number 59, I was quite stressed about being late in the day and wondering how I was going to hold it together. Then I looked up at the wall at my pictures from Bramham and saw I was number 59 there as well – I believed that was a bit of a sign and thought ‘if it was good enough for then, it’s good enough for now’.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Keep up with all of the breaking news, behind the scenes insight and the best of the action throughout Burghley Horse Trials with no limit on how much you can read from as little as £1 per week with a Horse & Hound unlimited website subscription. Sign up now. Plus enjoy our full 20-page magazine report on Burghley, including in-depth analysis and exclusive comments from Nick Burton and Mark Phillips, in next week’s magazine (8 September). 

    You may like...