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Thursday, September 02, 2010  •  11:44 BST


Among the 25 ‘first timers’ at this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is Aistis Vitkauskas. Not only is this the first visit to Burghley for the 38-year-old but he will also be the first rider ever to represent his home country of Lithuania as well as competing at his first four-star event.

Aistis who runs his own competition yard, of mainly dressage horses, rides AK’s Galopper, a German-bred 14-year-old by the Thoroughbred Parco. In May the combination was entered for Badminton but could not compete as Galopper suffered from travel sickness. “We spent the four days at the clinic instead so this time I have been a little more careful and made sure that we travelled well ahead of time,” said Aistis, whose first and as yet only competition on British soil was at the 2005 European Championships. “I have of course watched the videos of Burghley – so many times that I feel I have already ridden here,” says Aistis who has now walked the course for real. “The park is really, really lovely and the course looks jumpable but it is my first four-star so I need to see it a few more times yet. Galopper is reliable and knows what he must do – cross country is not the problem for him. It is the dressage that he finds most demanding.” Aistis’s wife Monika will be grooming for Galopper while their five-year-old son Augustus will be on hand with the dandy brush.