This must have been unique because, for a start, Andrew Nicholson, Mr Indefatigable, jogged no less than 5 horses up.
He had three of his own, as this year Burghley has not had to ballot – for the first time in a long time, I suspect! So, after his own Calico Joe, Nereo, and Avebury, he also jogged up Sir Mark Todd’s two, Ravenstar and Oloa, because Mark was stuck in traffic. In his own words, to the Ground Jury, “as if I don’t have enough to do!”
The outfits: Dee Hankey got a particularly loud round of applause for sprinting like FloJo in her white hotpants and stiletto-heeled knee-high brown boots. Beanie Sturgis wore flowing linen, very elegant.
Piggy French wore a lovely dress and flat pumps… unfortunately the crowd’s enthusiastic applause when Westwood Mariner passed made leap around violently enough to make her slip over onto her back, on the grass and then grimly hang on to the reins… thankfully she looked fine afterwards, though.
Away from the fashions and back to the serious business. A few horses were held, and sadly Emily Galbraith’s Timing was spun. Matthew Heath’s The Lion was represented from the holding box and, after a very long discussion from the Ground Jury, passed, in a ‘let’s see what he looks like in the dressage’ kind of way.
Some of the horses looked like hunters, others like racehorses… they all looked fit and raring to go, Andrew Nicholson’s very impressive trio in particular.
Le Prince des Bois got seriously spooked by something in the grandstand on the return jog, throwing his toys out of the pram and high-blowing in a very suspicious way. He was calmly and expertly managed by Kai Ruder.
Perhaps the best move of the entire afternoon was performed by Nicola Wilson’s groom. The two of them led Opposition Buzz to the start of the trot-up, one on either side, then the groom peeled away to leave him to Nicola. From this point he barely contained himself, coiling like a spring. He extended in almost-unstoppable style on the return, and Nicola’s groom did a perfectly-timed angled sprint to smoothly grab his offside rein and keep running alongside, so he was held straight by two people to decelerate, this got a ripple of applause too!