This year the United States will have three representatives competing at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. One of these will be Burghley first timer Laine Ashker, who will be riding her own Anthony Patch, AKA Al, an off the track Thoroughbred, who she bought as a four year old.
With 16 year old Al, Virginia-based Laine has competed at Rolex CCI**** four times with their best
placing coming in 2010 when they were 8th, and they were the national Advanced Champions at the American Eventing Championships in 2013.
Prior to competing at the famous Lincolnshire event, Eventing Worldwide caught up with Laine to find out her hopes and expectations of competing at Burghley for the first time.
After a hugely successful eventing career in the United States, Laine Ashker will be competing at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials for the first time with Anthony Patch. She says it will be an experience of a lifetime.
“Al isn’t getting any younger and he came out of this year’s Rolex so healthy that I figured I would jump at the chance to tackle my first overseas four star on my long-time partner. I am coming over to have the experience of a lifetime. Whether that puts me on top on Sunday afternoon or I get to finish, either way I will be happy. Just to complete at Burghley is a huge feat in itself. This trip has been made possible by all of my amazing fans who have followed my career from my first one star to my first international four star. It goes to show you the power of social media to have so many people from all over the world supporting Al, and my journey is really surreal.”
Laine has worked with long-time coach Buck Davidson for more than 15 years but because of his busy schedule she has been training with US eventing legend Karen O Connor in preparation for Burghley. So what are Al’s strengths and how will the come into play at Burghley? Laine says: “Al’s strengths are definitely his movement for the dressage and he is a super careful show jumper. He’s also extremely quick across the country and because he’s pure thoroughbred he tends to cool down quickly.”
Many of Laine’s United States compatriots have been successful at Burghley – Stephen Bradley won in 1993 on Sassy Reason and in 2012 two Americans were in the top 10 with Sinead Halpin coming second and Allison Springer placing 6th. So what advice have they given her? Laine says: “Kick like hell, and go out with guns a blazing from fence one until the last! I competed at Blenheim when I was 18 years old and that was an eye opener in itself with the massive crowd and trade fair. Being that I’m a little older and hopefully wiser, I’m praying Burghley atmosphere won’t come as such a shock to me. I’ve watched the course preview about four times and I’ve also been chatting with a few of my friends who have rocked around the course including Hannah Sue Burnett and Sinead Halpin to get some insider tips on how the course rides. It looks like I expected – a top international four star. I’m very excited to give it a go and to represent my Stars and Stripes along the way.”
So what are Laine’s aims for Burghley and beyond? She says: “This experience is for me to gain international exposure so that I can represent my country on the world stage later in my career. I’m very lucky to have a yard full of lovely up and coming horses that I hope everyone at Burghley will be seeing within the next couple years who will be able to keep the momentum I’ve gained off Anthony Patch.”
Laine and Al have been drawn Number 54 at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and Eventing Worldwide wishes them the best of luck. We’ll be keeping you up to date with their progress throughout the event online, on Facebook and on Twitter.