‘You should have taken me’: H&H talks to European gold medallist and other top 10 riders after Burghley dressage

  • Horse & Hound’s Lucy Elder rounds up the action on day two of dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, speaking to leader Kitty King about her ‘point to prove’ as well as Tim Price, Tom McEwen and highest-placed first-timer at this stage, Bubby Upton. *Please be patient to allow the video below to load*

    Kitty King came to Burghley Horse Trials with a point to prove – a point she made loud and clear by storming into the lead with the best ever international test of her career with her European team gold medallist Vendredi Biats.

    Kitty had pinned her sights on World Eventing Championship selection with the 13-year-old grey, with “Froggy’s” season and preparations planned with Pratoni in mind. But the pair are not on the five-strong squad and were named instead among the reserve combinations.

    “My plan, to put it bluntly, was to stick two fingers up at the selectors to say, ‘you should have taken me’. We’ve got a point to prove and will be putting our best foot forward [on the cross-country] tomorrow,” Kitty told H&H in the video above.

    Their harmonious test was peppered with nines, ending with a perfect 10 from Andrew Bennie at C for one of their collective marks, earning the pair a career-best score of 21.2.

    Tears came – a mix of relief and emotion – as Kitty completed the test of her life. The long walk out of Burghley’s main arena gave time enough for her provisional score to be relayed across the loudspeaker, flashing up on the big screen to applause from the crowd. Kitty clutched her hand to her face as a fresh wave filled her eyes.

    “It’s been tricky as I was really hoping to go to Pratoni, so I would have done a different final run than if I had been aiming for Burghley,” said Kitty, who rides Froggy for owners Diana Bown, Sally Lloyd Baker, Sally Eyre and Samantha Wilson.

    “Instead he ran round Hartpury really quickly, so I hope that hasn’t made him too keen. He needs to be listening to me when I tell him to slow down, and not arguing with me.”

    She added: “[Tomorrow] will be a tough day, but we will give it our best shot.”

    Former winner Tim Price and his Burghley first-timer Vitali, first to go on Friday morning, offered an instant refresh of the standings – nudging ahead of overnight leaders Sarah Bullimore and Corouet.

    “Because the horse is capable it’s on me to bring it out of him, he could do a nine everywhere,” said Tim. “But I’m not a dressage rider; I just gallop around jumps quite well sometimes.”

    Modesty on a five-star scale from the world number two, who ends the first phase in provisional second with the Giannamores’ gelding on a score of 21.3. Sarah and Corouet remain on the podium, sitting provisional third after dressage on 22.5.

    Day two delivered a significant shake up to the top 10. Oliver Townend is in touch of the leaders with both of today’s rides, taking provisional fifth with the Ridgeons’ Swallow Springs (23.6), who was third here with Andrew Nicholson in 2018. Oliver is also provisional ninth with the Hazeldines and Mitchell Fox Group’s Tregilder on 27.5.

    Reigning Burghley Horse Trials champion Pippa Funnell also has two horses in the top 10, with her first day ride Billy Walk On now in provisional eighth (26.2) and her second horse Majas Hope in 10th on 28.2.

    Ros Canter and the delightful Pencos Crown Jewel, owned by Annie Makin and Kate James, dazzled. Their score of 24.2 for provisional sixth is Ros’ best Burghley dressage score and is as much testament to her skill as a rider as the mare’s attitude.

    “I’m quite protective of little Jasmine so I just want her to enjoy it,” said Ros, explaining the mare isn’t naturally built for dressage. “If she comes back happy, that will do for me, but my plan A is to go for it – it’s the only way to tackle a five-star.”

    The 2021 Pau runner-up CHF Cooliser, ridden by Tom McEwen, completes the trio of mares in Burghley’s top 10 after dressage. The 12-year-old Womanizer daughter, owned by Vicky Bates and David Myers, shaved four percent off her previous five-star personal best in this phase to sit seventh on 25.6.

    “She’s completely quirky, so tomorrow everyone will be wondering what I’m up to as I’m walking alongside her and jumping on in the start box,” said Tom, likening Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course as “Tokyo on steroids”.

    “She loves it, she looks for flags for fun, but with that comes a few chestnut mare aspects, which you’ve just got to love. I’m really looking forward to finding out what she’s like around a track like this.”

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