The first horse inspection kicked off the 2017 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials ahead of what of looks set to be a fantastic week of eventing action.
Members of the Ground Jury, Martin Plewa, Harry Payne and Katarzyna Konarska ensured that all the horses were fit and ready to compete at the prestigious CCI4* competition. Only one horse was held for re-inspection: Roo Fox’s Fleet Street, before being passed on second presentation.
This year’s competition will be made up of 61 horse and rider combinations from eight nations. The field is headed by Andrew Nicholson who will be looking to back-up his Badminton win and take a step closer to achieving the Rolex Grand Slam. He has two rides – Qwanza and Nereo.
Strong competition looks set to come from another former winner New Zealander Caroline Powell who has entered Spice Sensation and Onwards and Upwards, British challenges will come from Oliver Townend with Samuel Thomas II and Ballaghmor Class, Kristina Cook with Star Witness and Calvino II and Gemma Tattersall with Arctic Soul.
International riders include former Burghley winner and Olympic gold medallist and World Champion Germany’s Michael Jung riding La Biosthetique Sam FBW, American Boyd Martin on Steady Eddie and Tim Price with Xavier Faer and Ringwood Sky Boy.
Oliver Townend, who won in 2009, said ahead of the competition: “Samuel Thomas finished seventh and best of the Brits last year. If I get anywhere near that with him would be fantastic. It’s exciting to have Ballaghmor Class here – it’s probably a little bit early for him to be extremely competitive but he is as good as I have had for a long time. I love being here – it’s a very special place and it’s somewhere I love coming back to every year. I’ve had a lot of luck here,”
Former double Olympic Champion Sir Mark Todd, aged 61, will be the oldest rider in the field, while first-timer Libby Seed is the youngest at 20 years old. Libby commented: “I’m mostly excited – it’s taken a lot to get here and it’s the first horse I’ve had at this level and I am delighted to be here.”
Event Director Elizabeth Inman commented: “We’re really looking forward to a great weekend. We have a couple of Britain’s gold winning medallists, and Michael Jung competing so it’s a really hot field.”
Emily Llewellyn will ride the guinea pig dressage test in front of the Ground Jury at 9.40am before the first combination, European Championship gold medallist Kristina Cook on Star Witness kicks off the competition in the Main Arena at 10.00am
Photographs courtesy of TB Photographic