5-8 September 2024

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Captain Mark Phillips To Pass On Burghley Baton In 2021

Defender Burghley's Cross Country Course Designer will hand over to another renowned Eventing specialist, the USA's Derek di Grazia in 2021.

Thursday, August 22, 2019 - 11:25
Press Day Mark Liz

Having started his tenure as Cross Country Course Designer some 30 years ago, Captain Mark Phillips has built an enduring partnership with Defender Burghley. His expertise and creativity continue to deliver epic competitions year after year; thrilling the crowds and challenging the World’s best riders to their limits. Mark is recognised as a true equestrian; a former Olympian and winner at 4* (now 5*) level, he is also a much respected and sought after coach and instructor.

Captain Mark Phillips comments: “Whilst I am still enjoying every moment of work with Burghley’s fabulous team, I’m not getting any younger and want to retire while I still feel at the cutting edge and on top of my game.”

Mark remembers his early years at Burghley and Bill Henson (then Event Director) telling him to “make Burghley, Burghley” something which has continued ever since. He adds: “I am grateful to the Event directors Bill and latterly Elizabeth Inman for all their support, which has helped me, to help them, make Burghley the event it is today.”

Elizabeth Inman, Event Director at Defender Burghley Horse Trials says: “Mark knows how we wonder every year at his ability to keep ‘pulling it out of the bag’ and next year (2020) will be particularly poignant as his swan song. Undoubtedly our Cross Country track – acknowledged as probably the most technically challenging test of all the 5* events, both from a competitor’s and designer’s perspective, has benefited hugely from the superlative all round experience and skill that Mark Phillips has brought to the Event.

“So yes, difficult shoes to fill, but softened by the good news that we are appointing Derek di Grazia into the role of course designer in 2021.”

Derek di Grazia is recognised for safe, sensible, yet tough courses and has been one of the top Cross Country course designers in the USA for over 15 years. He is the appointed Course Designer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Derek continues to compete at 4* level, is also a recognised coach and trainer and is known for his quiet, modest demeanour, demonstrating many of the very qualities that have worked so well during Mark’s tenure.

Derek di Grazia says: “It is a great honour to be appointed Course Designer for this very special competition and I’m truly excited to have a chance to design the Cross Country phase within Burghley Park’s very unique landscape. It is a fantastic project to have in my sights following on from the 2020 Olympic Games.”

Elizabeth Inman concludes: “We look forward with enthusiasm and confidence to this next chapter in the history of the Event and to Derek continuing to “make Burghley, Burghley”.