The first drama of Burghley Sunday was at the trot-up, when it was announced that Jock Paget had withdrawn Clifton Lush, lying in 2nd place overnight. Sadly Kerry Varley and Oliver Townend also withdrew their rides. Stanislas de Zuchowicz and Tom Crisp’s horses were amongst those sent to the Holding Box, from where Stanislas withdrew his Quirinal de la Bastide, and Tom’s Liberal was failed, unfortunately. All other horses passed, most looking incredibly fresh & well after yesterday’s exertions, Andrew Nicholson’s trio in particular being an absolute credit to him and his team.
The twisty SJ course proved very tough, with clears rare (only 7 out of a field of 42), and in fact none of the top 19 horses jumped clear, which must be some sort of record! As Andrew Nicholson pointed out at the Press Conference later, it is often the way that the horses which went slower XC the day before are more likely to SJ clear. Faults were spread all around the course, but the final fence was particularly troublesome.
Nicola Wilson’s freakish jumper Opposition Buzz did not look as though he had exerted himself in the slightest yesterday, but his exuberant springbok-style jump is not always suited to showjumps, putting the rails in danger from his back feet, and he had the back bar of the first fence, a triple bar, down. And two others, unfortunately dropping them to 11th.
Tina Cook’s one down with De Novo News was enough to pull her up to 10th place on this lovely horse he will be a very worthy successor to her phenomenal Miners Frolic. Ludwig Svennerstal, fresh from the Euros and his Team Silver medal, jumped a very neat round apart from a major blip at the first part of the double, where they landed hard enough on the top pole to snap it, for 9th.
Andrew Nicholson had 3 down on Calico Joe, dropping to 8th, and Sir Mark Todd’s one down was enough to pull him up to 7th from 10th overnight, although the step of trot he did before the penultimate fence, fortunately an upright, made the crowd gasp a little!
Jonelle Richards had three down, and maintained her overnight 6th place, which shows just how influential this track was – normally that would have meant a serious drop down the leaderboard. Ingrid Klimke’s ride Butts Abraxxas, who she withdrew from the Individual SJ round at Greenwich (in spite of being in a high position) because his Team round was so dicey, jumped round rather by braille, but she magicked only 1 down from him. Apart from the third fence, a red upright, which she rode to perhaps a bit over-protectively, he was careful enough and somehow left the rest up, and she looked absolutely delighted as she exited the arena.
William Fox-Pitt’s ride Parklane Hawk, looked, unusually, to be a bit of a handful, fighting in the related distances in particular. I wondered whether the treble might catch him out and sure enough, he accelerated after the first and had the 2nd and 3rd parts down, for a disappointing 8 faults.
Yesterday’s NZ black-wash continued. Andrew Nicholson had just one down on Nereo, for 3rd, and the same on Avebury, last year’s victor, for 2nd place.
The stands were deathly silent when Jock Paget rode in on his Badminton winner Clifton Promise, who has led at Burghley from the start. He had more than 2 fences in hand, and produced an almost copybook round until the very last fence, where he rubbed the front rail off and it fell… but at that point it didn’t matter, victory was his. Two stages of the Rolex Grand Slam, done and dusted.
Of course, Pippa won the Grand Slam with victories on two different horses, Supreme Rock and Primmore’s Pride. Nobody has won it since, although a few have come very close. Could Jock Paget and Clifton Promise, who he has described as “the best horse in the world”, go to Kentucky and do the treble?