We’ve seldom seen such a packed house — and such a vocal crowd — at a trot-up, but a combination of sparkling sunshine and the sheer excitement of Burghley’s return pulled in a bumper crowd for this afternoon’s first horse inspection. They were certainly rewarded for their efforts: throughout the course of the 52-horse presentation, they got plenty of action — in the form of sharp, spooky horses, many of whom insisted they’d never seen a trot strip in their lives and certainly weren’t prepared to trust one now — and more than a touch of country glamour, too, as riders put themselves in the mix for the Hi Ho Silver Best Dressed prizes.
Their joy was palpable and contagious, with each horse and rider receiving a tumult of cheers — particularly if they’d overcome a serious case of the spooks en route to being accepted by the ground jury. The comedy moment of the day, though (if such a thing can exist in a horse inspection!), belonged to William Fox-Pitt, who deputised for an unsound Sarah Bullimore and presented her homebred gelding, Corouet, for her. At over 6’5, William is the tallest rider in the field — and his legs were longer than those of tiny ‘Elfie’, who’s one of two 15.2hh entries in this year’s line-up.
Just one horse was sent to the holding box by the ground jury, which is made up of president Andrew Bennie (NZL), Austria’s Katrin Eichinger-Kniely and Great Britain’s Judy Hancock. That was J.P. Sheffield‘s Kiltar OBOS, who makes his five-star debut this week, helping his rider return to the level for the first time in a decade. They were subsequently accepted on re-presentation.
There was one ‘nearly’ moment, too: Sarah Clark, who’s made the long journey from Australia to tackle her first Burghley with LV Balou Jeanz, was asked to trot the gelding up again on a looser rein, but although she must have been holding her breath as she did so, her horse was quickly and decisively accepted into the competition after his second trip down the strip.
Two riders were awarded Best Dressed prizes from jewellery company Hi Ho Silver, who employed Tina Cook to join their judging panel for the day. The Best Dressed Female prize was awarded to American rider Cornelia Dorr, who makes her five-star debut this week with the impressive Daytona Beach 8 after a fruitful summer spent in England with Kevin and Emma McNab.
The Best Dressed Male prize went the way of Andrew James, who will debut Celtic Morning Star at the level in this week’s competition.
With all 52 horses safely through the first horse inspection, our attention can turn to tomorrow’s first day of dressage, which will start at a very civilised time of 9.45 a.m. BST (4.45 a.m. EST). New Zealand’s Tim Price will be the first rider in the ring with Bango, one of his three rides in this year’s competition, and he’ll be followed by 2019 winner Pippa Funnell, who doesn’t have her Burghley champion, MGH Grafton Street, entered this year, but will ride Barbury runner-up Billy Walk On tomorrow. You can check out the times in full here — or, if you’re hoping to tune in and follow the US contingent this week, their times are as follows:
- Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135 – 10.17 a.m. BST (5.17 a.m. EST)
- Cornelia Dorr and Daytona Beach 8 – 11.05 a.m. BST (6.05 a.m. EST)
- Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent – 13.38 p.m. BST (8.38 a.m. EST)
- Emily Hamel and Corvett – 14.50 p.m. BST (9.50 a.m. EST)
Stay tuned for plenty more Burghley coverage from EN — and in the meantime, Go Eventing!