Mark Phillips to Pass Burghley Baton to Derek di Grazia in 2021

Captain Mark Philips and Event Director Elizabeth Inman. Photo courtesy of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

The 2020 edition of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials will mark Captain Mark Philip’s final course after some 30 years at the helm of the event’s cross country design. For 2021 forward, the baton will be passed to Derek di Grazia.

“Whilst I am still enjoying every moment of work with Burghley’s fabulous team, I’m not getting any younger and want to retire while I still feel at the cutting edge and on top of my game,” he explains.

2019 marks Phillips’ 15th consecutive year working on the Burghley course, with stints prior to that as well from 1989-1996 and 1998-2000. Mark recalls his early years at Burghley, and then-Event Director Bill Henson telling him to “make Burghley, Burghley” — which he has certainly done, earning the event its reputation as the ultimate cross country test. “I am grateful to the Event Directors Bill and latterly Elizabeth Inman for all their support, which has helped me, to help them, make Burghley the event it is today,” he says.

Inman praises Phillips’ legacy of delivering creative, challenging and continuously evolving courses year after year. “Mark knows how we wonder every year at his ability to keep ‘pulling it out of the bag’ and next year (2020) will be particularly poignant as his swan song,” she says. “Undoubtedly our cross country track — acknowledged as probably the most technically challenging test of all the five-star events, both from a competitor’s and designer’s perspective — has benefitted hugely from the superlative all round experience and skill that Mark Phillips has brought to the event.

“So yes, difficult shoes to fill, but softened by the good news that we are appointing Derek di Grazia into the role of course designer in 2021.”

Di Grazia is recognized for safe, sensible, yet tough courses and has been one of the top cross country course designers in the U.S. for over 15 years. As the appointed course designer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, he is at the top of his game on the international front as well.

Di Grazia says, “It is a great honor to be appointed course designer for this very special competition and I’m truly excited to have a chance to design the cross country phase within Burghley Park’s very unique landscape. It is a fantastic project to have in my sights following on from the 2020 Olympic Games.”

Inman concludes, “We look forward with enthusiasm and confidence to this next chapter in the history of the event and to Derek continuing to ‘make Burghley, Burghley.'”

The 2019 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials takes place Sept. 5-8 in Stamford, England. Check out our preview of this year’s course here.

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[Captain Mark Phillips to Pass on the Burghley Baton in 2021]