Dirndls, Drama, and Dance-Moves: The Burghley First Horse Inspection

Buck Davidson and Park Trader are accepted for the USA. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Is it a sign that you’re reaching a *certain age* when the years start to speed by like a toddler who’s figured out how to work a coffee machine? Because last we checked, Badminton was like, a week ago, but somehow, we seem to be at Burghley, and the whole thing is confusing and, frankly, sort of frightening. Nonetheless, we are delving in headfirst with all the enthusiasm a small rodent and his much-maligned manservant can muster!

You’d be forgiven for worrying that an autumn CCI in a major championship year might not have much to offer, but in the case of this year’s Burghley entry list, you’d be spectacularly wrong. We’ve got a jam-packed week ahead of us, full of quantifiable superstars (Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor ClassTim Price and Ringwood Sky BoyPiggy French and Vanir Kamira — the list goes on!) and some seriously exciting up-and-coming horse and rider talent, too. We’ve also got a new-look course this year, with some — quite literally — ground-breaking changes that will throw even those stalwart Burghley competitors for a loop. We’ll be delving into the course and all its questions this week, so stay tuned for everything you need to know!

Spencer Sturmey ringleads the first horse inspection at Burghley — with a smile on his face, we promise! Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The competition got under way this afternoon with the first horse inspection. Held in the main arena, the trot-up is always well attended by eager eventing fans and connections, despite the threat of something rather more than drizzle on the horizon.

72 horses were presented to the assembled ground jury of Angela Tucker (GBR)Dr Ernst Topp (GER), and Sándor Fülöp (HUN) this afternoon, clearing up some of the ongoing mysteries surrounding some of our top riders and their multiple entries.

Oliver Townend and his pathfinder mount, MHS King Joules. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

World number one Oliver Townend had entered a head-spinning five horses, but brought forward three: last year’s winner Ballaghmor Class, Badminton runner-up Cooley SRS, and experienced campaigner MHS King Joules. All three passed, starting off Townend’s redemption campaign rather swimmingly.

Andrew Nicholson and four-star first-timer Swallow Springs. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Five-time Burghley winner Andrew Nicholson had three horses entered, but was expected to bring forward two — and so he did, with the exciting four-star debutante Swallow Springs coming forward, alongside Jet Set IV.

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

All three of our North American entries sailed through the first horse inspection — the stars and stripes will be ably represented by Buck Davidson and Park TraderLillian Heard and LCC Barnaby, and Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 this week.

Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby pass the first horse inspection. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

But the afternoon wasn’t without drama — two horses were sent to the holding box and subsequently withdrawn. Those were Fernhill Frankie II, one of two rides for Ireland’s Joseph Murphy, and Verdi, the sole entry of Italian rider Clelia Casiraghi.

There was drama of a slightly more humorous ilk, too, in the form of a plethora of rather fresh horses (and one forgetful rider). Harry Meade‘s Away Cruising displayed the most impressive dance moves of the day, flashing his heels and showing off some caprioles worthy of the Spanish Riding School.

“Fancy seeing you here!” Tim Price prepares to present Kiltubrid Rhapsody…

…but is saved from extra running at the last moment by the appearance of Mark Todd. Photos by Tilly Berendt.

New Zealand’s Tim Price had to do his best Mark Todd impression when the latter, well, failed to appear for the trot-up. Price presented the first of his rides, NZB Campino, and Toddy sprinted in just in time to give Kiltubrid Rhapsody a quick spin down the strip. We’d have thought the Kiwi legend would have gotten the hang of these things by now, but evidently not…!

Hi-Ho Silver once again judged the best-dressed competition, awarding a ladies’ prize and a gents’ prize. The ladies’ prize was scooped by New Zealand’s Caroline Powell, while the dashing Alex Bragg took the gents’ honours. As much as we love a good tasselled boot, it was lovely to see something a bit different on the trot strip today — and so our completely unofficial Golden Chinch for trot-up attire goes to Austria’s Katrin Khoddam-Hazrati, who wore a traditional dirndl to present her horse Cosma. The hills were alive with the sound of the ground jury, at any rate, so top marks to Katrin.

Austria’s Katrin Khoddam-Hazrati shakes up the trot-up formula. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Dressage gets underway at 9.30am BST/4.30am EST tomorrow — you can tune in to all the action via Burghley’s livestream and radio commentary. You can find all of the start times — and live scores — here. Not sure you want to commit to a full day of posh pony prancing? Here are the tests you’ll want to make sure you catch:

  • 9.30am BST/4.30am EST: Oliver Townend and MHS King Joules
  • 9.38am BST/4.38am EST: Mark Todd and NZB Campino
  • 10.18am BST/5.18am EST: Andrew Nicholson and Jet Set IV
  • 11.34am BST/6.34am EST: Ludwig Svennerstal and Stinger
  • 11.58am BST/6.58am EST: Imogen Murray and Ivar Gooden
  • 2.08pm BST/8.08am EST: Piggy French and Vanir Kamira
  • 2.32pm BST/8.32am EST: Harry Meade and Away Cruising
  • 4.15pm BST/11.15am EST: Andrea Baxter and Indy 500

We’ll be bringing you our comprehensive form guide, ready for the start of dressage, so you can find out everything you need to know about every. single. horse and rider competing here this weekend. Don’t say we never do nuffin’ for ya, dear readers!

In the meantime — goodnight and godspeed from glorious Stamford! Go Eventing!

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