Olympic champion Michael Jung will make his Burghley debut this year.
The German has entered two horses for the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (3-6 September). They are his Olympic gold medallist La Biosthetique-Sam FBW and last year’s World Equestrian Games (WEG) silver medallist FischerRocana FST.
Entries for the Lincolnshire classic closed last Friday (31 July) and 101 horses are currently in the mix. However, the field is likely to be whittled down over the next month as injuries play their part.
Some riders have also kept their options open with horses who may actually focus their autumn campaign elsewhere. Oliver Townend, Nicola Wilson and William Fox-Pitt have all entered the mounts with which they have been selected for the FEI European Eventing Championships the week after Burghley (10-13 September), Fenyas Elegance, One Two Many and Bay My Hero.
Several of the British reserve horses are also entered, so there will be interesting tactical decisions for the Team GBR management in who starts at Burghley. It’s unlikely that a horse that went far round Burghley’s demanding cross-country course would also run at Blair.
Defending champion Andrew Nicholson has no such concerns, being a New Zealander, and he has three horses entered. Avebury will be bidding for a fourth consecutive title here and Nereo for a first British four-star win. His third, Perfect Stranger, makes his debut at the level.
H&H columnist Mark Todd will strengthen the Kiwi hand with Leonidas II, as do husband and wife duo Tim and Jonelle Price. Tim rides Ringwood Sky Boy — whose only weakness is showjumping — while Jonelle has her 2014 WEG star Classic Moet, as well as The Deputy.
For the home side Oliver Townend currently has four horses in the mix, including Armada who was fourth here in 2012. William Fox-Pitt — six times a winner here — is likely to have only one ride, the four-star first-timer Fernhill Pimms.
Nicola Wilson could be in with a shout if she runs her Blair reserve horse Annie Clover and also has the popular coloured mare Beltane Queen on the list. Nicola has never won a four-star.
Pippa Funnell, the winner here in 2003, is another with three entries, including the smart Redesigned and her Europeans reserve horse Second Supreme.
The Australians also have a strong contingent, including Andrew Hoy (Rutherglen), Sam Griffiths (Happy Times and Paulank Brockagh), Bill Levett (Improvise), Christopher Burton (TS Jamaimo) and Paul Tapner (Kilronan and Vanir Kamira).
The USA sends three pairs, Colleen Rutledge with her homebred Covert Rights, Laine Ashker on Anthony Patch and Lynn Symansky on Donner. US-based Irishman Tim Bourke also crosses the pond with Luckaun Quality.
Among the less experienced riders worth watching are H&H blogger Coral Keen (Wellshead Fare Opposition), Sweden’s Ellen Svennerstal — sister of regular team rider Ludwig — on Southway and young German star Niklas Bschorer (Tom Tom Go 3).
British first-timers include Ben Way — the amateur who was best British debutant at Badminton this year on Galley Light — Charlotte Brear on Manor Missile, Rose Carnegie with Landine and Wills Oakden, who rides Alfi Brown here and is second reserve for the British squad for Blair with Greystone Midnight Melody.