The showjumping course at Burghley | An Eventful Life

The showjumping course at Burghley

      Richard Jeffery


Everyone knows that the cross country test at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is big and bold but less well known is that the show jumping phase offers its own unique challenges too. Unlike the all weather surfaces found at the 4* events of Kentucky and Luhmuhlen, the grass arenas of the English 4* events can be somewhat more unpredictable

The venue for the main arena where the show jumping and dressage phases take place is part of the Heritage Listed site of the Burghley Estate and therefore it is not possible to make changes the ground which, when you look closely, has quite a slope to it and various undulations

“The riders would love it to be flattened” admits Richard Jeffery, an FEI 4* showjumping course designer who has designed here for eight years and also designs courses for World Cup show jumping finals

“Maybe at some point it will come but it is also a big part of Burghley that the course is so unique in this way. If pure show jumpers came in here their reaction to the terrain would be ‘oh my god’ but the event horses are much more used to this sort of thing”

It is not just the terrain in the arena but also, because the dressage takes place in here, there are significant marks on the ground which the horses can misread



“Sometimes the horses see those as a ground line, trot pole or even small ditch and can try to jump them” says Richard, who this year adjusted the positioning of Fence 7 to avoid such a problem

The course of 13 fences is built to a maximum height of 1.30m, although the first two fences are at 1.25m, with spreads generally between 1.40m and 1.45m. However the triple bar at Fence 7 was at the maximum spread of 1.65m

“Ideally I would have liked the triple bar a little further down but we had to deal with this big rut so I had no option but to move it back a bit. They still have plenty of room to get to it but it is the biggest fence on course – highest and widest – but it should be the easiest to jump as a triple bar. We use a triple bar to create a ‘situation’ (I don’t like to call them problems!); a lot of horses will jump this and land quite shallow while others will jump further out over it"

"So you’ve got to know your horse and what it will do; what riders need to do here is to think the whole line, it’s like a triple combination although they are three separately numbered fences. It’s five strides and six strides with a bit of uphill to Fence 8 and also you’re going towards home so some horses will lengthen their stride. So this is a real rider problem”


      The biggest fence on course but the easiest to jump


As it turned out, this line caused fewer problems (or situations) than Richard thought and he commented afterwards that “If I had to build this course again tomorrow, I’d build it exactly the same”

One rider jumped double clear in the 2017 morning session – Caroline Powell on Spice Sensation – and the only four to achieve this in the afternoon were Imogen Murray (Ivar Gooden), Tina Cook (Star Witness), Tom McEwen (Toledo De Kerser) and Piggy French (Vanir Kamira)

Take a walk around the course, fence by fence







      No wonder the gate fell several times when you see how flat the cups are (below)




We all know whose boots these are but the company name has been removed due to broadcasting rights!