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Friday, September 1, 2017 • 5:09 pm

What this year’s 12 Burghley first timers had to say after their dressage tests

Clare Abbott (IRL) & Euro Prince

Whilst Clare has represented Ireland at both the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the 2014 World Equestrian Games and the 2013 European Championships, this is her first Land Rover Burghley, although she has completed Badminton three times, finishing 14th this year.

After dressage: “Euro Prince tried very hard in there, and bar the rein back it went well – I’m delighted that we got the [flying] changes. I’ve been looking forward to this since Badminton.”

Clare and ‘Sparky’ posted a score of 48.1 ~ 23rd after dressage

Looking forward to cross country day: “Euro Prince is an out and out Four Star horse with mountains of experience; a cross country maniac who will gallop all day long. I’m planning to go fast and take the direct routes on Saturday.”


Libby Seed (GBR) & What A Catch (pictured)

Libby is the youngest rider at Burghley this year at just 20. She studies Medical Science at Exeter University, and was a member of the British Young Rider squad at this year’s European Championships. Riding What A Catch, Libby contested her first Four Star at Luhmuhlen this year, jumping clear across country.

After dressage: “That was all good, apart from the flying changes. The atmosphere was quite intense in there, which I’ve not experienced before. It’s a bit overwhelming to be here, really.”

Libby & What A Catch scored 56.8 ~ 46th after dressage

Thoughts on the cross country course: “It is more of a fitness test than Luhmuhlen, although jumping clear there has given me confidence. I’m going to have to go out of the start box with a real rocket up my backside!”

On What A Catch: “He’s my first horse [having come out of ponies] and we really bought him to teach me dressage moves; I was only ever going to compete him at low level because he had suffered a stress fracture in a leg. We spent 2013 at the lower levels but he stayed sound and we kept moving up…”


Andrea Baxter (USA) & Indy 5000

Andrea, 34, runs Estrella Equestrian on the family ranch in Paso Robles, California, where they host four FEI events a year up to advanced level. She made her Four Star debut at Kentucky in 2010, whilst Indy 5000 made hers at the same venue this spring.

After dressage: “I was happy with that. Indy’s test at Kentucky was probably cleaner, but this one had more life to it – more energy and suppleness. She used to be wild – now I’ve got that under control and we have hit a bit of a quiet streak. This test was a happy medium.”

Andrea & Indy scored 56.9 ~ 47th after dressage

Looking towards the cross country: “I’m quite starstruck! Now I’m here, I understand what everyone says about the cross-country course. It’s bigger and longer than I thought possible. My horse doesn’t like right-handed corners – which pretty much all the straight routes are, so I might have to go long sometimes.”


Mackenna Shea (USA) & Landioso

Mackenna, 24, has been a member of the USEF U25 High Performance list since 2013. She made her Four Star debut at Kentucky last year, riding her Burghley partner Landioso. She impressed the judges to lie in third place overnight after the first day of dressage.

After dressage: “I get really distracted so I was trying hard to focus when I rode in to the arena – he’d been pretty electric at the jog (horse inspection) which is unusual for him. I was really happy with most of my trotwork and the canter was pretty good. I would have loved to do all my [flying] changes correctly, but I was happy with the way he was carrying himself and he was super-rideable.”

Mackenna & Landioso scored 46.1 ~ 14th after dressage

Thoughts on the cross country: “I’m going to have to be really mad about something when I go out of the [start] box because it’s a very aggressive, attacking course; I think I’m going to have to be angry to get it done. I didn’t know what a big step beyond Kentucky Burghley would be. Just walking the course takes so long!”


Savannah Fulton (USA) & Captain Jack

Savannah, 21, completed her first Four Star at Kentucky this spring, riding Captain Jack. She is based with Buck Davidson, and last year was awarded the Amanda Pirie Warrington grant which provides financial training assistance ‘to a talented up and coming rider with the ability to represent the USA in the future’. Captain Jack is an ‘off the track thoroughbred’.

After dressage: “Big smile! Captain Jack is definitely not a dressage horse, but he held it together and that was the best we can do. He’s definitely more a horse for cross country than for dressage.”

Savannah & Captain Jack scored 68.9 ~ 60th after dressage

Cross country thoughts: “The course is a lot bigger than Kentucky but I’m hopeful because he loves to gallop. If I don’t let him down, he won’t let me down – and it’s way more fun to be here with such a big team of Americans.”


Emma Hyslop-Webb (GBR) & Penlands Douglas

Emma, 34, is one of Burghley’s most local riders; she runs a 20-box yard near Melton Mowbray and completed her first Four Star in 2015, riding Penlands Douglas.

After dressage: “His trot work was nice but in canter he anticipated the changes a bit which was a shame – we can do a lot better. After that score I will definitely be riding to get a clear round on Saturday.”

Emma & Penlands Douglas scored 58.0 ~ =49th after dressage

On Penlands Douglas: “We call him ‘our house’ as technically we had to take out another mortgage to buy the other owners out. The amount of blood, sweat and tears it takes, it means everything to get here.”


Emma Forsyth (GBR) & Soltair Justice

Emma, 38, has competed to Prix St Georges in pure dressage and is a trainee dressage judge. She is also trained in sports massage.

After dressage: “I’m quite pleased with that. He doesn’t find dressage easy but he tried his hardest in there.”

Emma & Soltair Justice scored 52.1 ~ 38th after dressage

On the cross country course: “It’s massive out there. Nothing prepares you for walking Burghley, it’s relentless. He’s a sound and tough horse, but I hope he has the stamina.”


Sophie Brown (GBR) & Wil

Sophie (28) runs Cottagers Plot Equestrian Centre near Grimsby. She bougt Wil unbacked and in 2013 the pair represented Great Britain at the European CCI2* Championships in Austria.

After dressage: “Wil isn’t the most extravagant mover but the aim was to go in there and not make a mistake. He didn’t, but sadly I did. I think that was due to me wanting to squeeze every single mark out. But I’m really happy with how he went, he felt really rideable all the way round.

“For us, this is a huge step and I was aware of the crowds, but he didn’t seem to notice too much – we have been playing crowd music to him at home so hopefully that helped. I wanted to get into the 40’s and without my little blonde moment, we would have done that.”

Sophie & Wil scored 50.4 ~ 31st after dressage

Thoughts on the cross country: “Wil has done a good few three-stars now and he’s getting round them quite happily. This will be a big challenge – we’re going to set off with a positive mindset and attempt most of the direct routes. If he feels tired or spooky, I’ve got a plan B. I feel he’s fit but you don’t know if you have a Burghley horse until you try it.”

Read more about Sophie HERE


Lauren Kieffer (USA) & Veronica

2016 Rio Olympic veteran Lauren completed her first Badminton earlier this year and since then has been part-based in the UK. She took over the ride on Veronica from Karen O’Connor in 2013, and the pair has twice finished runners up at Kentucky.

After dressage: “I’m thrilled. Veronica is such a professional now, she knows what her job is and when she is on a big stage. She loves to work – she is definitely a work horse and knows when she is at a competition, it’s probably where she is happiest.

“Her canter work was quite good and her walk – we’ve struggled with those in the past. She is such a go-ey mare that it’s sometimes hard to keep it fluid, but this test really suits her and helps her along so I was really happy with her work.”

Lauren & Veronica scored 37.0 ~ 2nd after dressage

On the cross country course: “It’s big and bad. I’ve been here to watch a few times and it’s what I expected. Hopefully we’ll be on our toes tomorrow and have a good go.

“Mark [Phillips] has given us long routes where you can change your mind in the middle of combinations – the real thing is being willing to change your plan in the middle if things aren’t working out.”


Sarah Ennis (IRL) & BLM Diamond Delux

Sarah, 42, recently made her third team appearance for Ireland at the European Championships in Strzegom, finishing 7th individually. She completed Badminton and Pau CCI4*s last year. A keen sailor and dive master, Sarah lives in Co Meath.

After dressage: “I could trot him all day long, but I struggle a bit to lighten his forehand in the canter. Having been on the road for the last two weeks, to Poland and then Millstreet, I possibly haven’t put in as much work as I would have liked.”

Sarah & BLM Diamond Delux scored 45.9 ~ 13th after dressage

Thoughts on the cross country: “I’ve never been to Burghley before, not even on foot, and am dying to get out there. My horse has an enormous jump but he might struggle a bit with the terrain and length of course.”


Olivia Craddock (GBR) & Billy Liffy

It is not just a first Burghley for Olivia, 26, this is also her first Four Star. Based in Sussex, she has represented Great Britain as part of the Nations Cup squad.

After dressage: “I’m still shaking, he was amazing. Dressage has been his weak phase for a while, and I’ve been training for the last year with Ian Woodhead who has transformed both Billy Liffy and me. He told me to just go in and breath, that ‘you’re here for him so don’t get nervous and too tight’. It’s hard not to do that but [the horse] kept answering every question. To have scored 45.4 is unbelievable, and is the start of the future.”

Olivia & Billy Liffy scored 45.4 ~ 10th after dressage

On what riding at Burghley means: “It’s a dream I’ve had since I was tiny to compete here. My mum died four years ago and this was her dream too. I’m wearing her ring this weekend and am devastated she’s not here, but I’m sure she’ll be watching so hopefully I’m making her proud.

On the cross country: “Billy Liffy is a fab jumper and we are here to give it our best shot. He goes well off his adrenaline and I’m so excited, but also nervous. He lives for going fast so I’m going to leave the start box meaning business.”


Lillian Heard (USA) & LCC Barnaby

Lillian has completed Kentucky CCI4* six times, twice with her Burghley ride LCC Barnaby. She is based at Windurra in Pennsylvania, the training centre and home of Boyd and Sylva Martin.

After dressage: “I lived over here for a little while and have been to a lot of British events. I got to know how British riders prepare for events, which has helped my own preparation for Burghley.

“He was pretty wild [in the dressage]. I’m disappointed, but this isn’t a dressage event. That’s why I chose Burghley. After Kentucky we went into intense dressage training for a couple of months; today it wasn’t the dressage that wound him up, it was the arena and the atmosphere. It’s frustrating to have him come over here and blow up.

“Of all the things I have ever wanted to do, Burghley was top of the list.”

Lillian & LCC Barnaby scored 58.0 ~ =49th after dressage

Thoughts on the cross country: “The jumps here are different to the jumps in America – they are older and bigger… and tough. The Trout Hatchery will be tricky for us as there are some tight turns and my horse is strong and doesn’t turn that well. This is only his third four-star and I still have some tweaking to do to perfect it.”