Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials Preview

At Eventing Worldwide, we love delving into the history books. So with the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials just around the corner, we take a look back in time to bring you some historical information about the world-famous three-day event.

B is for Back to Back winners. Andrew Nicholson and Avebury made history becoming the only horse and rider combination to win the Burghley title for three consecutiveyears: 2012, 2013 and 2014. Virginia Leng won the event four years in a row but with different horses (1983 and 1985 with Priceless, 1984 with Night Cap II and 1986 with Murphy Himself). William Fox Pitt – who has the most Burghley wins to his name, won in 2007 and 2008 (Parkmore Ed and Tamarillo) whilst Sir Mark Todd won back to back titles in 1990 and 1991 (Face the Music and Welton Greyleg). Can Tim Price join this selective club? He has three horses entered this year – Bango, Ringwood Sky Boy and Xavier Faer.

U is for USA.There have been two winners from the USA; Bruce Davidson in 1974 with Irish Cap, when they were also crowned World Champions and Stephen Bradley in 1993 with Sassy Reason. There is a strong contingent of American riders in this year’s field – 11 in total including Bruce Davidson Jr, Lauren Kieffer, Hannah-Sue Burnett and Elizabeth Halliday-Sharpe.

R is for Royal Winner. HRH Princess won the event in 1971, and in doing so became European Champion, with Doublet. Her daughter, Zara Tindall, went on to be European Champion in 2005. Princess Anne presented the prizes to the winners in 2011. The event has a long association with the Royals. In 2017 HRH The Countess of Wessex presented the winner with the Land Rover Perpetual Challenge Trophy and she will visit the event on the Sunday in her role as Patron of the British Show Pony Society.

G is for Great Britain.Undoubtedly the most successful nation at the event with British riders winning on 35 occasions. Oliver Townend was the last British winner in 2018 with Ballaghmor Class, having also won in 2009 with Carousel Quest. Townend heads the British riders in this year’s fields with three horses entered; Ballaghmor Class, Cooley Master Class and Ulises. In total, there are 47 British riders entered.

H is for how the horse trials started. Eventing came to Burghley in 1961 by accident rather than design. The Marquess of Exeter, a keen equestrian, heard that the three-day event at Harewood was to be cancelled due to a suspected outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. He invited the British Horse Society to transfer the event to his estate in a move which was to prove the start of a remarkable journey.The inaugural event had just 19 competitors and in front of a mere 12,000 people. Today, the event attracts more than 67,000 visitors over the four days and ranks within the UK’s top ten national sporting occasions by attendance.

L is for Leading from the start. Since 1995, four riders have led from the conclusion of the dressage to take the Burghley Horse Trials title. The latest of these was Christopher Burton who won his first Burghley Horse Trials title in 2016 with Nobilis 18. And this was despite having four rails down in the final show jumping phase. The other riders to achieve this are all British; Mary King (Star Appeal), William Fox Pitt (Ballincoola) and Oliver Townend (Carousel Quest).

E is entries; There were 86 entries for this year’s event. The star-studded line-up includes former winners Chris Burton (Australia), Pippa Funnell (Great Britain) and Oliver Townend (Great Britain). As well as Australia and Great Britain, entries have come from the USA, France, Sweden, New Zealand, Brazil and Belgium.


Y is for Young Riders. And Young Horses. In 1978 Burghley Horse Trials also hosted the Junior European Championships. This was won by Ralf Ehrenbrink, who was part of the German gold medal winning team. He went on to be a member of the German team who went on to win the Gold medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Since 1990, the event has also hosted the Burghley Young Event Horse finals, which is now sponsored by Dubarry. It is acknowledged as the shop window to view potential ‘five star’ event horses at an early age.

Sarah Wells-Gaston

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