Here at Your Horse, we’ve been walking the course at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials with Captain Mark Phillips and having a sneak peek at what the riders can expect at the three-day event this September.
Designed by Captain Mark Phillips, this year’s course will head round in a clockwise direction – just like last year.
It will feature 31 fences – including the famous Cottesmore Leap (an impressive 1.45m high and 2.80m wide) – with riders expected to complete the course in just over 11 minutes.
Captain Mark Phillips says: “This isn’t an easy course. Riders can’t just kick and point at the jump, they actually need to ride it. I think it’s good to get the riders attention and have them concentrating over the fences. I don’t design it as something I think I’d like to ride.
“When I’m designing the course, if there’s a fence I’m not happy with, I’ll change it until I’m happy with the whole thing. I try not to think of it in terms of individual fences.
In fact, there’s been a few changes to fences this year – even after they were built.
“I had to bring a few fences down a couple of inches,” says Captain Phillips. “They scared me too much!”
Right from the word go, both horse and rider will be challenged and will need to settle into their stride early on.
Starting over the Olympic Legacy – a jump through a giant horse shoe with a height of 1.38m – riders will head off to the second fence, Lambert’s sofa, which is positioned in front of Burghley House.
Fence four at the Lion Bridge features a jump in the water, set between a Land Rover and a lifeboat.
The Winners’ Avenue Wood Pile at fence 11 is a huge jump over a spread of 2.80m and comes just before the Cottesmore Leap at fence 12. This massive ditch fence has caught a few riders out in the past, and this year looks set to be no different.
Arguably one of the most challenging aspects of the course comes in the form of the Land Rover Dairy Farm at fence 14. Heading over a corner at fence 14, riders will then head straight over part b (a 1.20m roll top) before dropping down a steep bank to a quick turn onto part c. Accuracy is going to be key here – getting a stride wrong could really get you in trouble.
The Trout Hatchery at fence 21 features four parts and riders should be around the seven-minute mark when they get here.
“They shouldn’t be too tired at this point,” says Captain Phillips. “3* courses are around seven minutes so this shouldn’t be too much to ask for at this point.”
After this, the riders have ten fences left to complete the course.
Riders first come through Discovery Valley at fence 24 and are treated to three brush style fences, shaped in the style of Land Rovers.
They then come back through Discovery Valley at fence 27 on the run for home. Two parts make up this element of the course – two 1.20m fences, one in the shape of a moon, the other a sun.
Riders are then on the home straight, heading over two spread fences in the arena before sprinting to the finish at fences 30 and 31.
It’s a challenging course that will test even the most talented of horses and riders. As Captain Mark Phillips says: “It’s big, it’s Burghley and it’s four star!”
The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials will run from 1-4 September. For more details visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk