Antipodeans and age dominate dressage at Burghley

        The youngest rider in the top 10, Chris Burton took the lead late in the day


Mark Twain famously said that “Age is an issue of mind of matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”

Many of the riders today proved that in this sport age certainly doesn’t matter and in many cases, can be an advantage! At one point the top 10 was mainly made up of riders over the age of 50 with Bettina Hoy (53), Mark Todd (60), Blyth Tait (55), Andrew Nicholson (55), Andrew Hoy (57) and Bill Levett (55), proving that age and experience certainly count



By the end of the day however, it was one of the new guard that topped the leader board with the current world number two ranked rider, Australian Chris Burton wowing the crowd and the judges on board Nobilis 18. 34 year old Chris (the youngest rider in the current top 10) scored an ‘oh-so-nearly-sub-40’ on 30.2 with a test that impressed the judges from the start, scoring two eights and a nine for the first entry and halt. Chris has said that Nobilis 18 is not the easiest horse in the world but today the 11 year old leggy bay looked relaxed whilst producing some lovely work while in the arena.

While Nobilis 18 is on top form, Chris is not feeling quite so great due to a cold and even had time for a little nap today before his dressage


Chris Burton


The overnight leader Bettina Hoy is now in second place, 4.3 penalties behind Chris on her score of 34.5 and New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson is in third place riding the very experienced Nereo on 35.2



“That is as good as I could have got out of him” said Andrew after the test “There are a couple of bits of the arena that are a bit muddy, it’s not deep but Nereo’s been around a long time and he knows that, if the green grass becomes a bit brown, it must be soft so he was shutting his power off a bit. They may have marked me down a little bit for that, saying the shoulder-ins may not have been quite powerful enough but I thought I’m best just to leave him as he knows what he’s doing. If I tell him he needs more power he might flick his head at me or do something silly so I decided just to keep it smooth”


Andrew Nicholson


The top 10 has four more New Zealanders with Caroline Powell riding Onwards and Upwards in fourth (37.8), Tim Price on Ringwood Sky Boy in seventh (38.9), Blyth Tait riding Bear Necessity V in ninth (40) and Mark Todd riding NZB Campino in 10th (42.2).

“He has potential to do a stunning test and he has the potential to do a not so stunning test!” said Caroline “But he is my inspiration to get up in the morning”

Caroline hasn’t ridden around a cross country course at this level for a few years and admits to being ‘slightly terrified’ but still ‘looking forward to it’.



Last weekend was not a great one for Blyth Tait at Blair Castle but he has bounced back and was delighted with his test on Bear Necessity V (above), the horse that jumped so beautifully around Badminton for him earlier this year.


Blyth Tait


       Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy


Tim Price is philosophical about the bad luck he’s had this year “When things happen, like falling off at the Olympics, you have to step up and make it happen or quit. I’m not going to quit – it’s too much fun”


Tim Price



      Andrew Hoy and The Blue Frontier


Australia also features heavily in the top 10 with not only Chris Burton in the top spot but Andrew Hoy riding The Blue Frontier in sixth place (38.3) and Sam Griffiths on Happy Times in eighth (39.6).

This score was a personal best for The Blue Frontier who is at his first 4* start here


Andrew Hoy



Sam Griffiths, the last rider before lunch, started a string of sub-40 scores that continued in the afternoon. The 17 year old Happy Times was last night inducted into the Event Riders Association Hall of Fame (more about that coming soon) and he certainly put up a good performance today


Sam Griffiths



The very last rider of the day, Oliver Townend riding MHS Joules (above) slotted into fifth spot with a score of 38.1, the only British rider in the top 10.

Earlier in the day Australia’s Sonja Johnson riding Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison had scored 46.9, putting them ultimately into 19th place (watch our interview with Sonja here). Bill Levett and Shane Rose are also in the top 20 with Bill in 12th place on Improvise (42.3) and Shane, on his second ride Virgil, is 13th (45.1)



Shane Rose


       Shane Rose and Virgil


Dark black clouds gathered ominously during the afternoon, only to disappear again, but tomorrow’s forecast of rain in the afternoon could have quite a bearing on the day’s competition. And for those riders who are in the ‘more mature’ bracket, here’s another quote, this time from the German philosopher Arthur Schopenenhauer

“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed”

We’ll see if that’s the case tomorrow