William Fox Pitt: ‘Be sensible about your next steps’ *H&H Plus*


  • In his latest exclusive H&H column, top British event rider William Fox-Pitt praises the Burnham Market team for their successful hosting of Britain’s only CCI4*-L class this season, while advising caution...

    COMPETITORS felt fortunate to have a four-star long at Burnham Market, the only one in the UK this year. Running it was a serious undertaking by Alec Lochore and his wife Emily and their team at Musketeer, as well as a financial risk, so hats off to them.

    Hopefully with a big entry, and no frills, they did better than just making ends meet. The whole team should be very satisfied with how it came together.

    Now, it feels like our younger horses have made progress rather than just treading water in 2020. We can move forward to 2021, with everything crossed for our big events.

    People were compliant about following rules; there wasn’t partying in the lorry park. It’s good that this is the case, but a real shame it has to be so – it’s not eventing as we know it.

    It was brilliant to have the dressage for the four-star long section in the main arena. Although it was strange to do a test with only about 10 people watching, the location of the ring, with the bank and flags, generated some atmosphere.

    More horses are doing 70% tests this year; the time we’ve all spent working on the dressage shows. In the four-star long, a score of 35 (65%) – hardly a bad mark – put you in the bottom half.

    Burnham Market’s spring fixture is known for being able to run when it’s wet, so there was some caution about the going in a dry September. Alec and his team worked incredibly hard and they provided the best ground possible.

    The main arena was well prepared and watered, the warm-up had also been treated and we could use the sand arena, too. On the cross-county, watering in the build-up fostered the grass cover and excellent work was done with the Equivator. But when someone as competitive as Piggy March withdraws all her horses from strong positions, people do take note.

    Ultimately, though, it was for each rider to act according to their plan, their aim and their horse – some can gallop brilliantly on that drier, firmer ground and others do get jarred up. But riding round, you couldn’t hear hooves rebounding – while it wasn’t springy old turf, the ground wasn’t punishing.

    The low withdrawal rate on Sunday, just two, was a good reflection of the work put into the ground.

    The track didn’t wheel as if the time would be easy, but 48% were inside it, which is a lot for a four-star long. It was a galloping track on flat, firm ground, without much to slow us down.

    Alec was aware of not terrifying riders, given the lack of prep, but the course could have been more educational, testing horses footwork and nimbleness, without being bigger. There was a jumping clear rate of 75% and not much shake-up of the leaderboard.

    Oddly, there was a high rate of non-finishers – 20% – with 10 eliminations, mostly for falls. Were riders a little complacent or were horses tired?

    I did hear comments that you’d be nervous if Badminton was your next stop. I hope everyone will be sensible about what this event leaves them ready for, regardless of what it qualifies them for – and that the less experienced take advice where necessary.

    Izzy Taylor pulled off a win in the long with a faultless performance on Monkeying Around, but 20 penalties across country in the eight- and nine-year-old class denied her the double, though she will still look forward to the future with Hartacker.

    There were plenty of smart young horses on display across both the short and long sections – Yasmin Ingham’s winner Banzai Du Loir, Nicola Wilson’s JL Dublin and Sarah Bullimore’s Corouet particularly caught my eye.

    H&H 24 Sept 2020

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