Burghley dreams dashed as cross-country mistakes prove costly for some

  • Emily King is “kicking herself” after a “rider error” on Valmy Biats, who was 10th after the dressage phase, on the Defender 2023 Burghley Horse Trials cross-country course.

    The pair were going well until the Waterloo Rails when the horse dived slightly to the left and broke the frangible device. Emily regained her composure, putting the mistake behind her to complete her first Burghley cross-country attempt with The Valmy Biats Syndicate’s 14-year-old. In addition to the 11 penalties for a frangible pin at fence 12, the pair also collected 15 for a missed flag at 14C.

    “I wanted to set out in a good rhythm with the main aim of bringing him back safe and sound,” Emily said. “I rode a really rubbish line to a railed oxer [fence 12] and it was completely my own fault that we made an error. We managed to scramble it, but his girth got a bit twisted and I dropped my whip. Everything went off balance a bit and I wondered if I should stop, but someone in the crowd yelled ‘Emily, you’re doing great’ so I carried on with the job with no whip and my girth back! But he was amazing.”

    After a solid start, the Leaf Pit once again proved a nemesis for Zara Tindall and Class Affair. After dropping down the hill with ease and jumping the big brush oxer, Class Affair lost balance on landing and ran past the final brush. They cleared it at the second attempt and continued around the course, taking the long route through some combinations, until Zara pulled up at the top of Winners’ Avenue before the Cottesmore Leap.

    “I saw a big shot and he landed on his head a bit,” said Zara of her problem at the Leaf Pit. “As I went on he got better and better, but he got a bit tired. At some of the combinations he felt amazing, but overall it didn’t work today.”

    The Leaf Pit has been a nemesis for Zara and this is the third Burghley in a row she’s encountered problems here.

    “We’ll go home and make a plan now; maybe this track isn’t for him, but we’ll have to see,” she said.

    Harry Mutch achieved his first-ever 2023 Burghley Horse Trials cross-country finish on his mother Carole Mutch’s five-star debutant Shanbeg Cooley, the youngest horse on the field at just nine-years-old. After a stop at the first part of the Leaf Pit, Harry swiftly got back on track by taking the long route. They returned home safe with 20 jumping penalties and 19.6 time penalties.

    Burghley cross-country clear jumping rounds

    World number 10 Boyd Martin and his first ride of the day, the Turner family’s Cabri D’Elle mare On Cue, who was 16th after dressage, completed the course clear with 10.8 time penalties.

    “She’s a legend of a horse and I love her to bits; it doesn’t matter what the scenario is, she pricks her ears and gets on with it,” said Boyd. “She felt the hill after jumping the Trout Hatchery so I didn’t push her as I didn’t want her to run out of petrol. I accepted that this was her speed and consequently we were a bit over the time.

    “My second runner Thomas [Tsetserleg] is fitter so I’ll probably go for it a bit more on him later on.”

    Alexander Bragg produced a confident round with the Roe Family’s mare Quindiva on his second Burghley appearance to finish clear with 14 time penalties.

    “I saved her too much at the beginning, but this was the right decision for her first Burghley,” said Alex. “I’m over the moon with her.”

    End of day update: Ahead of the show jumping, Boyd Martin and On Cue occupy 12th position, Alexander Bragg and Quindiva are in 20th, Emily King and Valmy Biats are 29th, and Harry Mutch and Shanbeg Cooley are 32nd.

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