‘Attitude, personality and belief in himself’: Burghley Horse Trials dressage leaders talk through their tests

  • Horse & Hound’s Lucy Elder rounds up the action on day one of dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, catching with Sarah Bullimore, Piggy March, Pippa Funnell and Zara Tindall for their thoughts on the opening day of the 2022 five-star.
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    The opening chapter of the 2022 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials delivered on a class scale to a crowd that had waited three years to turn that first page.

    Thursday’s Keats of an autumn morning was as if the Covid dust sheets of the cancelled years had been lifted, revealing the waiting gem in eventing’s crown.

    Sarah Bullimore, nursing an injured knee, and her homebred Corouet – a pint-sized star packed with the “attitude of a 22hh horse” out of her former championship ride Lilly Corrine – sit atop the Burghley Horse Trials overnight leaderboard after day one of dressage.

    “To ride, he is not a small horse. He feels enormous. He has huge attitude, huge personality, and true belief in himself,” said Sarah in the video above, who owns the 11-year-old Balou De Rouet gelding with her husband Brett and the Kew Jumping Syndicate.

    Their 22.5 test, the third best score in the event’s history, inched them ahead of provisional leaders Piggy March and the great veteran Burghley campaigner Vanir Kamira, now in second after day one on 22.6.

    Piggy said victory for Trevor Dickens’ 17-year-old Badminton-winning mare this week would be a “complete fairytale”.

    “But I don’t care what happens as long as she goes out being a great Burghley horse and finishes sound and well. That’s all she owes us these days – but we’ll be trying,” she said.

    The exclusive club of Badminton winning mares was also represented with 2018 winners Classic Moet and Jonelle Price, provisional 12th overnight on 32.2.

    “I’m a realist in day-to-day life, but forever an optimist on these old mares and getting a test out of them. Everytime I think I’m going to squeak that 29.5, I’m just the usual 1.5 mark adrift,” said Jonelle. “We are not a million miles away and a bit of luck the time will be tough on Saturday and we will have buckets of rain on Friday night, then it’s anyones.”

    Reigning Burghley Horse Trials title holder Pippa Funnell is in provisional third with the first of her two rides this year, her Bicton CCI5* runner-up Billy Walk On.

    Pippa said she was delighted with Billy Walk On’s test, but “a little bit disappointed” that the judge at E, Judy Hancock, had given her a mark 4-5% lower than the other two judges, Andrew Bennie and Katrin Eichinger-Kniely.

    “That was frustrating because I felt I got the balance right with him,” said Pippa. “I would say it was definitely a personal best for him at this level. I was very happy, it’s just a shame that judge wasn’t the same as the other two.”

    Pippa is wearing two hats this week, supporting several other competitors including Tom Jackson and Wesko Foundation riders Harry Mutch and Kristina Hall-Jackson alongside her own Burghley campaign.

    “I love helping nice horses, I love helping keen, talented riders that really want to learn,” she said. “To me, it’s not about the winning and the big events. It’s about the partnership and the relationship [with the horse] – that’s what’s most important.”

    Zara Tindall cracked the 30 barrier to sit provisional fourth on 28.4 aboard Class Affair, with Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent the highest placed international combination in fifth on 29.6 for the US.

    Former winner Tim Price is in equal sixth with Bango the first, and most experienced, of his three rides this year, on 29.8 – the same score as US first-timer Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135.

    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). 

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