Captain Mark Phillips to pass on the Burghley baton in 2021

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Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials’ cross-country course designer Captain Mark Phillips will hand over to another renowned eventing specialist, the USA’s Derek di Grazia in 2021.

Having started his tenure as cross-country course designer some 30 years ago, Captain Mark Phillips has built an enduring partnership with Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. 

Mark commented:  “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.”

Mark remembers his early years at Burghley and Bill Henson (then event director) telling him to “make Burghley, Burghley” — something which has continued ever since. 

He adds: “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.”

Elizabeth said: “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. 

“Undoubtedly our cross-country track – acknowledged as probably the most technically challenging test of all the 5* 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.”

Derek di Grazia is recognised for safe, sensible, yet tough courses and has been one of the top cross-country course designers in the USA for over 15 years. He is also the appointed course designer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Derek said: “It is a great honour 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.”

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