Stamford, England—Sept. 4
Australia’s Christopher Burton, one of the most talented riders to hit the eventing circuit in the last few years, emerged victorious on Nobilis 18 at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, even if he did live a little dangerously in the closing stages of the competition.
Such was Burton’s supremacy after the first two phases that he entered the jumping arena with four fences in hand, but he did manage to hit four; if he’d had another he would have handed a sixth Burghley victory to the invincible Andrew Nicholson, who rose a place to be second on Nereo with just one down and a couple of time penalties.
Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18. Photo by Libby Law Photography.
Jonelle Price of New Zealand scored her best CCI**** result this year, third on Classic Moet with just 4 faults, and her husband, Tim, who had taken the pressure off Burton with his three fences down on Ringwood Sky Boy, ended up in fourth place.
“I tried to keep it interesting for you all,” said Burton wryly. “Nobilis is usually a careful jumper, but he felt a bit tired, and the ground was perhaps a little dead, but that’s three-day eventing for you.
“Never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me that I would win Burghley. I’d walked past all the plaques on Winners’ Avenue—all these old boys with their names on them—and thought it would be nice to have my name there too,” he added.
Burghley winner Christopher Burton. Photo by Libby Law Photography.
Andrew Nicholson may not quite count as an “old boy,” but he is 21 years older than Burton, and he admits that he is not back to full strength after breaking his neck 12 months ago. “You don’t know how special this is,” he told the television cameras.
And it was particularly appropriate that this result should come on Libby Sellar’s 16-year-old Nereo, three-times a runner-up at Burghley, a winner of World Equestrian Games and Olympic medals and a one-man horse with which the Kiwi genius has particular affinity.
Andrew Nicholson and Nereo. Photo by Libby Law Photography.
Jonelle Price, who scored her best ever Burghley result, admitted that she was disappointed with her dressage mark, which left her in 22nd place. “I feel as if I’ve been digging myself out of a hole from the start, first after the dressage and then when I got time penalties with the wrong line at the Dairy Farm on the cross-country. But now, of course, I’m delighted.”
France’s Cedric Lyard on Cadeau du Roi and Oliver Townend on Samuel Thomas benefited from clear jumping rounds and rose to fifth and seventh places, split by Bettina Hoy, sixth, who incurred 8 faults on Designer 10. Townend was the highest-placed British rider at this year’s event.
Oliver Townend and Samuel Thomas. Photo by Libby Law Photography.
Only three other riders achieved clears over Richard Jeffrey’s influential jumping track: Shane Rose on Virgil, 16th, Tim Price on Bango, 21st, and Ros Canter on Allstar B, 25th of the 38 finishers. Bill Levett withdrew Improvise overnight when in ninth position.
U.S. rider Elisa Wallace was the highest-placed of her group, finishing in 14th after having three poles down. Phillip Dutton ended up in 19th on Fernhill Fugitive after earning only 4 jumping penalties, and Holly Payne-Caravella picked up 20 faults on Never Outfoxed to finish in 20th place.
Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless. Photo by Libby Law Photography.
Andrew Nicholson was also pleasantly surprised to find himself the recipient of $20,000 for leaping into third place in the FEI Classics 2015/2016, an astonishing achievement considering he has only competed at two four-star events this season.
Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive. Photo by Libby Law Photography.
No one was ever going to catch Germany’s Michael Jung, the runaway winner of the $40,000 FEI Classics 2015/2016 first prize, but Tim Price, who was third at Pau (France) and fourth at Luhmühlen (Germany) as well, managed to hold onto second place, and he takes home a cool $30,000.
Holly Payne Caravella and Never Outfoxed. Photo by Libby Law Photography.