Burghley Dressage Friday

Burghley Dressage Friday

First in today and minus the sunshine of the last few weeks but still Vitali sparkled.  As Tim said afterwards, he is a funny horse, when he is onside he is amazing but if he loses concentration he can get irritated and then he can really go west.

Vitali has clearly decided he likes Burghley.  This time when he went into the arena there was none of the petulance from the trot up, just an appreciation of the crowd that awaited him and he decided to show off to them.  And when Vitali shows off it really is a beautiful thing in an arena like Burghley.  Tim was able to ask for everything he needed and it was a harmonious demonstration of a great partnership.

A technical hitch meant the scores were’t coming up for the movements so when the final score did get announced Tim was off Vitali and in the collecting ring.  The crowd had given Tim a huge cheer as he exited the arena already but they cheered again when it was announced that he had gone into the lead on a score of 21.3.  Tim is, deservedly so, one of the most popular riders on the circuit and his huge smile said it all and he confirmed to the interviewer that ‘Burghley is my favourite event of all time’ which considering he has eaten dirt here on cross country, survived one of Ringwood Sky Boy’s (Ozzie) early forays through the Lower Trout Hatchery which he tackled literally leg by leg, as well as having won it pretty much sums up what Burghley means to the top riders: its the pinnacle of everything that elite sport brings, the lowest of lows and the best of highs.

Second last of the day saw Tim canter into the arena on Polystar (Nero) and Carl Hester, commentating, said straight away that this looked like a ‘proper dressage horse’.  Nero is indeed beautiful, all 17hh of black shimmering ebony and he has a very ‘uphill’ correct way of going.  Nero did some beautiful movements, his extended trot garnering a 9 from Andrew Bennie but he also had a couple of vastly expensive mistakes that dragged his score down form the expected low twenties.  He, like Bango (Uno), dispensed with the need for a halt before the rein back which earned him 2, 4 and 1 and he had an unfortunate spook at the start of the stretchy circle which led him to drop back to trot which made him look as though he wasn’t in frort of the leg, in self carriage or had sufficient balance and that earned him 4, 4 and a 5.  His changes are spectacular, his way of going is so smooth and so obedient but today just showed that the Burghley main arena atmosphere is such that you need to be experienced to deal with it.  Nero has won Saumur 4L ( in 2019) and in 2018 won Arville and Gatcombe 4*S ERM competitions but has done very little since and has never started at 5 star.  His last big outing was in 2019 at Aachen with Chris Burton and he was 2nd in Strzegom in the spring with Tim but it’s a competition that runs 9 classes and Poland isn’t big on ancestral venues with Parks designed by Capability Brown…. more utilitarian would be a nice way to describe the venue.  So to be fair to him, at 17 he is pretty late to the party when the likes of Xavier Faer and Ringwood Sky Boy hit 5 star at 11 and 10 and started to get used to the unique atmosphere of the main arenas at Badminton and Burghley.  A score of 31 leaves then in 21st with Classic Moet (Molly) in 25th on 32.2.  Vitali is 2nd by 0.1 to Kitty King and Vendredi Biats and good old Bango (Uno) still in 16th from his pathfinding test on Thursday morning.

Dressage saddles are at the back of the tack locker now and these 4 amazing 5 star horses will get to tackle the testing terrain and the massive fences that define Burghley tomorrow.  Rain is forecast to end our fabulous summer….none of our guys will be phased by it in the least and no better riders to head out on course tomorrow than Tim and Jonelle.