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Kiwis Chasing Four Star Victory at Burghley

Kiwis Chasing Four Star Victory at Burghley

There is a strong Kiwi contingent heading to the Land Rover Burghley International Horse Trials this week, and any one of them could quite rightly claim the very prestigious title.
Sir Mark Todd, who already has five Burghley titles to his credit, says he’d “dearly” love to add one more.
He lines up aboard Leonidas II, on whom he finished fourth at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this year.

The 11-year-old bay gelding, who is currently the top ranked horse in the UK, is making his début at Burghley, but Todd says that won’t hold him back.

“I think he has a good chance this year, all going well. He is very consistent and a very good horse. It will be interesting to see how he copes, but he is a great jumper and very scopy and brave.”

Todd joins many other riders in praising Burghley as an event.
“It is most of the riders favourite event,” he says. “It comes at the end of the season and everyone is starting to think about winding down a little. It is a beautiful event . . . just stunning with the park and the house. I think in some ways too it is sort of generally regarded as a bit more challenging than Badminton too.”

Cross country designer Captain Mark Phillips has reversed the course, meaning the hills will come up much earlier making it quite a different ride for the combinations.

“I am sure it will be quite testing,” says Todd. “The undulations there make it more of a stamina test than Badminton, and it looks like there is plenty to do all the way round, but particularly towards the end on a horse that may be tiring.”

Also lining up in the four star event is the number three ranked Jonelle Price with Classic Moet, her husband Tim with Ringwood Sky Boy and Jock Paget with Shady Grey.

Jonelle Price continues to knock on the door of her first four star win. Classic Moet is the little star she finished fourth on at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games last year, and is having her first crack at Burghley.

Tim Price will be looking to build on his best four star efforts – second at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day this year on Wesko, and a win with the same horse in the CCI4* at Luhmuhlen last year.

Paget will be keen to go one better than his second place effort last year, albeit on a different horse. This is Shady Grey’s first start at Burghley.

But it is a classy field the Kiwis will be up against, including the world number one ranked Michael Jung (GER), who has his two best horses on the card, as well as the world number two, William Fox-Pitt (GBR), who has a slew of Burghley titles to his name already. Also entered are some of the best from Australia, France, Sweden and the United States.

Missing though will be the history-making defending champ Andrew Nicholson, who is recovering from a nasty fall at Gatcombe earlier this month. He is already talking about getting back in the saddle later this year to prepare for next season, saying that horses were his life and passion, and not something he was yet ready to give up.

Burghley is also the last event in the FEI Classics Series – comprising Les Etoiles de Pau, Australian International Three Day Event, Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, Luhmuhlen CCI4* and Burghley.

Leader Ingrid Klimke (GER) has an unassailable lead with 42 points, but there could be a fierce battle for the minor placings, including from Jonelle Price, who sits in fourth place on 20 points. Jung is in second with 25 and Fox-Pitt in third on 23. Todd is in sixth on 14, with Tim Price in seventh on 12 and Paget rounding out the top 10.

With 15 points for a win, and $US35,000 for second place, $US25,000 for third and $US15,000 for fourth, there are bound to be some very determined riders chasing the honours. The series winner gets $US40,000.
Burghley offers 68,000 pounds sterling to the winner.

The first horse inspection is on Wednesday afternoon (UK time), followed by two days of dressage, cross country on Saturday and showjumping on Sunday.

Also at Burghley this year, but competing in the five-year-old young horse event, is Lizzie Brown and Kincooley Ceili, while New Zealand eventing selector Judy Bradwell owns Grappa Nera, who will compete in the four-year-old class.

The New Zealand riders and horses are – Jonelle Price on Classic Moet (owned by Trisha Rickards), Sir Mark Todd on Leonidas II (owned by Diane Brunsden, Peter Cattell and Todd), Tim Price on Ringwood Sky Boy (owned by Varenna Allen, Robert Taylor, and Price), Jock Paget on Shady Grey (owned by Lucy Allison, Olivia Berry and Paget) and Lizzie Brown on Kincooley Ceili (owned by Susan Lamb).


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