Wayback Wednesday: Watch 90 Minutes of 2000 Burghley Horse Trials

EN’s good friend David Robinson, better known as harveywetdog, unearthed some old VHS tapes of the BBC Grandstand coverage of the 2000 Burghley Horse Trials and posted them on his blog, which he’s kindly allowed us to reprint an excerpt of here. This year had a certain famous Mr. Stickability moment that you can see at about the 2-minute marker of the third video, but you really have to watch the full 90 minutes. Thank you, David, for these wonderful videos!

As 2000 was an Olympic year, a number of the British team were already in Sydney waiting for the start of the competition. The commentary makes reference to this, describing Chris Bartle and William Fox-Pitt as unfortunate to have missed selection and others taking advantage of some of the stars being missing.

Not missing are New Zealanders Andrew Nicholson and Mark Todd, both for whom this turned out to be a memorable Burghley — one for an unforgettable moment of perseverance and recovery and one because this was supposed to be his final competition in England (and one because he won the competition!).

In the video we see Vere Phillipps riding his late wife Polly’s horse Coral Cove to finish in a creditable fifth place, and when interviewed by Clare Balding, Vere admits he’s beginning to enjoy dressage.

The format is familiar today with a mix of course walk, dressage and cross country action to start interspersed with interviews in the lorry park before switching live to Clare for the final of the show jumping. There’s possibly more in the show jumping section than we’d get today, and we do see the winner pick up his prize.

There’s a nice moment when you can see Toddy having a (cigarette) in the background with his mates and another moment when Chris Bartle looks a little lost; perhaps he was looking for the German team?

Clare pulls the whole thing together professionally — and apologies that it looks like she has a fly on her nose at the beginning; it’s just a trick of the recording. As this is Olympic year, we are treated to an introduction to the 3DE by Michael Peschardt with a story which covers the transport of the horses and the water complexes.

The coverage is all you would expect from the BBC; the course is described as not as tough as previous years. The riders are open and honest; Merran Wallis admits she wouldn’t have wanted to go any faster, Fox-Pitt is forgiving of Moon Man’s stop and knows there’ll be another day, and Vere Phillipps’ efforts are both moving and commendable.

Perhaps the competition will be most remembered for Andrew Nicholson’s amazing recovery in part 3, but I hope you will view the whole 90 minutes as a great reminder of a golden age of eventing coverage on the BBC.

This playlist will take you through all four videos.

Editor’s note: In addition to the riders mentioned here, you’ll also see Americans like the late great Beale Morris, who finished sixth aboard Pathfinder, as well as Darren Chiacchia in the video. USEF team selector Marcia Kulak was our next highest placed American, finishing 24th with Talk Back. And Mike Winter finished 26th for Canada with Deltry Regality. Jonathan Elliott also completed, finishing 36th with Kilcoltrim. Click here for full results.