Cross Country

2016 Fence List

2016 Course Notes

By Capt Mark Phillips CVO
Burghley Cross Country Course Designer 2005–2016

2016 sees a repeat of last year’s route direction which was reversed from what had become the ‘default’ way round that riders had come to know so well. Last year proved that getting inside the time was not so easy and that making up time after the Cottesmore Leap was much more difficult than anticipated. This year will be no exception.

The course sets out from Ring Two over the Olympic Legacy (1) horse shoe hedge and Lambert’s Sofa (2) re-sited for the benefit of TV. With the nerves settling, riders then have time to establish a rhythm and enjoy the Garden Table (3) as they turn away from the House.

Lion Bridge (4) comes early enough and riders have to be fully committed as they make the short turn to the Boat House with the ground sloping down steeply behind into the water. A little care is needed as they enter the deeper water before lining up with the Land Rover RIB as they come out from under the Bridge.

As horses gallop through the Dressage Warm Up area, the first real 4* test looms ahead at the Anniversary Splash (5) and Lakeside Hedges (6) where there is a total of 5 jumping efforts. Going into the Splash riders start with a large Double Brush on a down slope before sweeping up left to another imposing Double Brush on the Berme and then just two strides before a narrow Brush into the Water. It’s difficult to make up time over the island and the long water crossing where rhythm is the key, because coming out of the water riders have to decide whether to take on the acutely angled offset Hedges on one stride or jump up the Step, bounce over a hedge and then a further one stride to another hedge on a less acute angle. I think we will see both sides jumped.

The Collyweston Slate Mine (7) comes next and looks square and scary. It is truly massive and maximum dimensions everywhere. Horses then commence the long climb up to the Cottesmore Leap. Capability’s Cutting (8,9) comes after the initial hill. The tree spade out of the cutting is simple enough before turning on one stride and a downslope to the second spade. These ‘Spades’ represent how Capability Brown moved large trees with a horse and cart before the era of hydraulics.

Riders will have jumped 13 efforts as they pass the two minute mark which means being on time here will be very difficult, particularly when they have also been through two water crossings, but now there is wide open galloping over the huge Rolex Grand Slam Vault (10) which stands at 5’3” out of the ground. As they climb up Winners Avenue, there is another monster, the brand new Winners’ Avenue Wood Pile (11), again maximum dimensions. If riders didn’t realize they were at a 4* they surely will by now because at the top of the hill the iconic Cottesmore Leap (12,13) awaits with a large narrow Double Brush just 4 strides later.  Riders must keep petrol in the tank for this one, but here lies the problem they cannot be too far behind the clock because from now on making up time is not so easy.

The stretch down to the Land Rover Dairy Farm (14) gives everyone a chance to catch their breath and pick up a little speed. However control, balance and patience is needed for this difficult combination which starts by jumping a left hand corner as they go up onto the Mound, just two strides later there is a big feeder before a steep descent to a tricky right hand corner. There is an easier long route but the 10-15 seconds lost will mean there is no chance of making the time for those who choose discretion over valour.

Back across Capability’s Cutting the Rolex Combination (15) looms. The first part is a very simple 9’ ditch but grassed on both sides. Riders will need to take great care here to ensure their horses completely understand the question, because a foot in the ditch will almost certainly result in riders having to take one of the two alternative Corners.

The Maltings Village Green  (16,17,18) is the next landmark. Riders would be advised to steady up for the first Oxer so they can make the inside turn to a choice of either a very upright looking Gate or a big Oxer on a mound before bending to a very missable Triple Brush. As they head out of the Maltings, they still have to jump the iconic White Oxer.

Captain’s Log (19) is something of a breather before the most difficult combination on the course, the Land Rover Trout Hatchery (20,21). The Half Moon Brush to start won’t hold too many fears before they splash through the top Hatchery prior to turning to a big log with a 6’ drop down into the second Hatchery. The left hand corner 4 strides later will come up very quick before a very skinny Triple Brush in the bottom Hatchery, again just 4 strides later on a bending line. Of course there is an easier longer route and many may be advised to abandon ‘plan a’ and go to ‘plan b’ if they are getting into trouble. Once again though the long route will make it very hard to achieve the time.

Herberts Hollow (22) is one of the smaller fences on the course but looks daunting enough that I provided an easier option. Thomson’s Wall (23) still looks big but is straightforward and unchanged.

Discovery Valley (24) is another matter, totally different from yesteryear and no easier. The Trunk and Twin Discoveries are straight forward enough but the 4 strides up to the third Discovery is not so easy and some may opt for the time consuming alternative here.

The Cross Rails (25) are a step back into history, first jumped in Cirencester Park in the early ‘70’s. As riders approach the 9 minute mark at the FEI Classics Leaf Pit (26) the worst is behind them, although nobody enjoys the leap into space as horses drop down into the Pit where this time they have a skinny missable Triple Bar on the way out.

Back to Discovery Valley (27) the Sun & the Moon is little more than a speed bump before coming up to the 10-minute mark and entering the Main Arena where the angled Grandstands Return from Rio (28,29) will need a little respect and some care if horses are getting tired.

It’s then the ride home over the Picnic Table (30) with its Land Rover Parasols and finally the Land Rover Finale (31) and the welcome sight of the finish.

Riders are going to have to give a lot of thought to determine the best ‘game plan’ for their horse over the 2016 track which has Burghley written all over it. For certain who ever takes home the Land Rover Prize Money will be a true Burghley Champion.