5-8 September 2024

Burghley image

A first time for everything

Out of 52 starters at the 2022 Defender Burghley Horse Trials, 18 of them are debutants – nine of them performing their dressage tests each day.

Thursday, September 01, 2022 - 15:56
Harry Mutch HD Bronze LRBHT PN22 38610

First out for the first-timers was 25-year-old Harry Mutch (GBR) riding HD Bronze (pictured). The pair posted a score of 30.8. “I'll take that,” said a delighted Harry, who completed Badminton with HD Bronze in 2019. “The canter work was the best he's ever given me, I'm thrilled.

“It's amazing to be here. The cross-country is huge but I can't wait to get out there on such a scopey and galloping horse.”

Harry is currently based with Pippa Funnell, and he admits: “She has been amazing. My dressage scores have been improving rapidly with her help.”

Woods Baughman, riding C'Est La Vie 135 for America, was next. This is a first British five-star start for Woods, but the pair completed Lexington CCI5* this spring. It was while training with Dirk Schrade in 2018 that he bought C'Est La Vie. Read more about Woods' thoughts after his test HERE.

Fresh off the back of a successful Defender Blair Castle International Horse Trials, Wills Oakden (GBR) and Oughterard Cooley are mid-field on 32.4. The Perthshire-based rider made his five-star debut at Badminton in 2019 riding Cooley Ramiro. A former British Young Rider, Wills won team gold back in 2011, he rode as an individual at the 2015 Senior Europeans and has represented Great Britain in Nations Cup competitions.

This year's youngest competitor, 20-year-old Alice Casburn, will be looking to better her 19th place finish at both Pau 2021 and Badminton 2022. She is currently flying high having recently won team gold and individual bronze at the Young Rider European Championships. She and her home-bred Topspin posted a score of 33.6 to finish the day in 15th place.

“This is a personal best score for us so I'm delighted. I've worked really hard with Caroline Moore and Tracy Robinson who have so much knowledge between them.”

Asked about her thoughts on the cross-country course, Alice said: “I felt a bit sick walking round – it is substantially huge! But... he's a phenomenal jumper...”

Danielle Dunn (GBR) and Grandslam broke the 35 penalty barrier to lie in 18th place overnight. Eventing is in her genes; her mother, Jacquie Toogood completed both Badminton and Burghley back in the 1980s. While it is a first Burghley for Danielle, she has twice completed Pau CCI5*, most recently last autumn on her Burghley ride Grandslam.

“Dressage wouldn't be his favourite phase, though that was a huge improvement on his last international test,” Danielle confessed. “He finds it hard to contain his excitement. It felt so special cantering in; totally surreal. I am so honoured to be competing alongside these amazing riders.

“The cross-country is not for the faint-hearted, but I've got a good feeling. Grandslam is super-quirky but I'm very excited to get out there.”

Last first-timer of the day, Felicity Collins (GBR) and RSH Contend OR, sit between Alice and Wills on 33.2 in 14th place. The pair completed this year's Badminton in 21st place. Like Alice Casburn and Danielle Dunn, Felicity's mother was also a five-star rider; does that make it more nerve-wracking for the respective parent, or not?

Padraig McCarthy (IRL) on HHS Noble Call, Cornelia Dorr (USA) riding Daytona Beach 8 and Emily Hamel (USA) on Corvett are further down the leaderboard but, as ever, Burghley won't be a dressage competition.