Andrew Nicholson (NZ) and Avebury (Trevor Holt/FEI)
Lausanne (SUI), August 31, 2016 – The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) has long brought out the best in antipodean riders and predictions are that one of the strong representation from ‘Down Under’ will triumph in this final leg of the FEI Classics™ 2015/2016, set against a typically historic British backdrop of ancient parkland surrounding a beautiful 16th-century country house.
Four New Zealanders have won the prestigious Burghley trophy 13 times between them since Sir Mark Todd scored the first of his five triumphs in 1987, and they will be aiming to give Kiwi supporters a boost after the team came agonizingly close to a medal at the Rio Olympic Games earlier this month.
Todd, who rides NZB Campino, and Andrew Nicholson (Nereo and Qwanza), another five-time Burghley winner, probably understand the challenging nature of the parkland here better than anyone else and have produced many vintage cross-country rounds over the decades. Victory for either would be hugely popular, but there’s also former winners Blyth Tait (Bear Necessity V) and Caroline Powell (Onwards and Upwards) to consider, plus the 2015 runner-up Tim Price (Ringwood Sky Boy and Bango) and his wife Jonelle (Classic Moet).
Andrew Hoy (Rutherglen and The Blue Frontier), whose two victories were 25 years apart (in 1979 and 2004), is the only former Australian winner in the field (the other was Lucinda Fredericks), but Olympic team bronze medalist Christopher Burton (Nobilis 18) has been the in-form rider this year and starred at Burghley 2015 in third and fourth places.
Burton’s team mates Sam Griffiths (Happy Times) and Shane Rose (Shanghai Joe and Virgil) are also in the frame, as is the USA’s individual Olympic bronze medalist Phillip Dutton (Fernhill Fugitive).
None of them can catch Olympic champion Michael Jung (GER), the runaway leader of the FEI Classics™, but Price, Todd and Rose are all closely bunched in the race to secure the subsidiary cash prizes.
Eight nations are represented in the field, but it is the British who will perhaps be most anxious to seize the trophy back onto home ground for the first time since William Fox-Pitt won in 2011. Fox-Pitt is absent this year, but contenders include Olympic team member and 2003 winner Pippa Funnell (Second Supreme), 2009 winner Oliver Townend (MHS King Joules and Dromgurrihy Blue) and Kristina Cook (Star Witness).
Around 75 horses will come before the Ground Jury in the first horse inspection and Tom Crisp (GBR) on Coolys Luxury will be first into the Dressage arena Thursday morning at 9am (local time).
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By Kate Green
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