Sarah Carless reports …
Bettina Hoy gave a dressage masterclass to take a commanding lead with Designer 10 at the end of the first day at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Her test aboard the flashy 12-year-old Westfalian gelding was a cut above the rest but she admitted it wasn’t as easy as the horse made it look.
She said; “He felt really good. He had to work really hard – he’s not necessarily built to be a dressage horse. With my coach we have worked out a really good warm up plan and that seems to work really well. I’m really happy to be here and I think that filters through to the horse. He is now established at this level so you are getting in the test what he can do at home. Some horses get affected by the atmosphere but he really seems to try to concentrate. Except the one change where he got a little tight he did everything I asked him to do. He couldn’t believe all the applause was for him.”
Having looked at the cross country she commented: “The course is big, as you expect at Burghley. It’s a very big course with one question after another and the horses have to be very fit. This is definitely not a dressage competition. It’s all about the cross country.”
Australian Bill Levett sits eight penalties behind Hoy, scoring 42.5 with Improvise. Levett commented
that it had been a year of ‘nearlys’ for the horse having been a reserve horse for the Olympic Games, and said the Autumn campaign had always been about Burghley.
After a good performance in the dressage, his attention now turns to the cross country. He said: “It’ll be hard track to ride for sure. Last year he only had four time and the year before he came sixth so he has got good form around here. The track does suit him because he has a lot of stamina and engine.”
The best placed British rider at the end of day one is Paul Sims with Glengarnock, who rode a smooth, accurate test to score 46.6. Afterwards he commented: “ It was definitely his best four-star test to date. I knew he was capable of doing a test like this but to have actually done it is incredible. He was very relaxed this morning and was working a lot more within himself. I’m feeling confident; we’ve been here three times and Glengarnock’s a reliable cross country horse. It looks a strong as it always does here. There are some big questions and we’ll see how he rides on Saturday.”
All riders agree that this year’s competition is not going to be all about the dressage as the challenge of Captain Mark Phillips cross country course lies ahead. Here’s what some of today’s riders had to say about their dressage tests, and their thoughts of the cross country.
Abigail Boulton scored 59.0 with Tilston Tic Toc.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with him. He had his mistakes again, he was getting very tense towards the A end of the arena but I managed to keep it under wraps. He’s pulled out a really nice test for me. Spencer was really pleased. He has been a huge part of my career and I’m thankful for his support. He is always there to help. It’s definitely a Burghley course. Last year was amazing for me and him and I hope I can give him the same run again.”
Australia’s Shane Rose scored 50.5 with Shanghai Joe.
“I was really happy with him. He isn’t naturally gifted in the dressage but he had some nice rhythmical paces and was very relaxed so I was happy and I’m excited to be back here. It’s a really tough track but if I do a good job he’s a really good jumping horse and if I present him at the jumps he should be right to tackle them. There’s no reason he can’t be on that score after cross country.”
Nicholas Lucey is a first timer to Burghley. With Proud Courage he scored 60.3 in the dressage.
“The dream would have been to be in the 50s but seeing as they are marking quite hard today I would have taken that at the start of it. He went in and tried really hard considering he is a horse who doesn’t have the movement as some of the others and the natural ability, I was really pleased with him. Whatever happens is a dream achieved. Walking the cross country today it was quite large. Luckily there are quite a few long routes but we’ll have to see how it goes. Sometimes you set off and find a rhythm and find your way and feel like you can jump anything so hopefully it will be one of those days.”
Imogen Gloag is riding at her first Burghley. She scored 60.4 with Brendonhill Doublet.
“He was my pony club horse, he won the pony club championships four years ago and now he is here. I’m really pleased with his test, he did really well. The changes didn’t come off but I was thrilled with the rest of it. He coped with the atmosphere and stayed quite relaxed which is good. Abigail (Boulton) has given me some advice. It’s nice to have somebody that’s been here before. I walked the cross country yesterday. It’s big and its Burghley. I can’t wait to give it a go. I just want to get round.”
Sarah Bullimore rode Reve Du Rouet to a score of 49.1.
“He outwardly looks really quiet and calm and relaxed. But inside is utter turmoil going on and it’s just keeping that under control. It is a bit of a balancing act. I think it (the cross county course) is certainly as tough as last year, if not tougher in places. It’s a good track and it will take some jumping and it’s certainly not going to be a dressage competition.”
Dan Jocelyn scored 59.9 with Dassett Cool Touch.
“There were a few moments where he got his tongue over the bit and got funny in the rein which unsettled him. He’s been a bit unsettled in the dressage but today just get right and then he had that moment and it caused a few ripple effects. I love riding Mark Phillips’ cross country courses and its peanut disappoint walking around here. It’s a lovely big track. I love the terrain at Burghley, I’ve had some good rides round here. I think this horse is up for it. It will be his strength on Saturday. I’ll walk the course again but I pretty much know where I am going – it will just be to check a few lines but the plan is to go straight everywhere. The clever thing is that there probably isn’t a bogey fence, it could happen all the way round.”
American rider Bunnie Sexton scored 61.0 with Rise Against.
“I’m very pleased overall. It’s taken a lot of points off his Rolex score but we still have a way to go but it’s heading in the right direction. It’s only going to get better and better. I’m looking forward to the cross country. I’m going to go do another course walk. Everything looks huge when you first walk it but he is an amazing horse. I will have to see how he feels about the changes in terrain – that is my main concern – but it is a beautiful course and I look forward to getting a change to do it.”
Jonelle Price speaks after her test on Classic Moet, scoring 48.5.
I’d like to see it (my test) back on video. She is a funny one as she isn’t particularly classical – you manufacture a test as opposed to relying on her natural talent and it doesn’t always feel as it looks. I’m guessing she was a little short in the next today as a result of tension and that keeps the marks on the lower side. The course looked great. It’s incredibly well presented. It’s Burghley – it’s big it’s beautiful and the terrain is always influential. It’s a true four star track.”
Tomorrow’s dressage kicks off with Kirsty Johnston and Opposition Detective first into the arena at 9.30am.
Photographs courtesy of Lorraine Porter