Press Conference with the top 3 riders and the Course Designer.
“Nereo… I have always had a bit of a soft spot for him. Avebury was lovely to ride and very gentle, Nereo is a big strong horse and has always found things a bit harder than Avebury. I am very proud of him. He helped me out today, he had looked at the plan and was reading the numbers for me. For example I didn’t get to the spot I wanted at the Dairy Mound, he spotted the corner at the bottom of the slope and took himself to it. That’s what we feed and work him for, he knows his job.
The ground felt fine. Later they were maybe sinking in a bit, but my time faults were not because of the going, but because I didn’t go fast enough.”
I asked whether he’d had a chance to enjoy it out there, and he replied “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have fun.”
“It was good to see Jonelle go so well. There was a bit of a false start to the day, but lots of good riders later in the day who could show how the course could be ridden, Jonelle was one of them, made it look ridiculously easy, as she’s done a few times before,
I was excited for my round, after first horse, that was educational, he’s an unknown quantity.
I was looking forward to this one (Ringwood Sky Boy), he knows his way around, finds an extra leg, gets second wind. It was a nice round, I enjoyed it.”
CMP asked him “how come you always manage to get stopped on course” to which he replied instantly:
“I stopped myself at Rio at exactly the same time, 8 minutes!”
“I was very nervous today, I sat in the riders’ tent and watched a heap of riders and horses go and that didn’t help me at all. I went back to my truck and said to my wife ‘why don’t we curl up in bed all afternoon and forget this.’
I was lucky today, the distances were coming to me, he’s a good easy horse to ride forward to a fence. I had one of the rare moments where I changed my mind, I had planned to do the long route at the Trout Hatchery as I had seen so many go on four and a half strides, but I was so far down on my minute markers I changed my mind, very unlike me”
Course Designer Captain Mark Phillips:
“It was harder work for the riders than I thought it was going to be. All the combinations required a forward ride on the way in, which is why we have these 3 sitting here, because they did that better than anyone else.
It was disappointing to have so many falls. Three in a row fell at the Trout Hatchery. We kept checking it, we picked a shoe out of there earlier, we kept making sure nobody was treading on a shoe or something.
Riders were not helping the horses, we saw riders land and fall forward a lot today. At the Land Rover Trout Hatchery and Discovery Valley, riders weren’t helping the horses.
We saw every fence ridden very well, a lot of people made every fence look fantastic, but I would have liked to have seen a better picture overall.
We had 68 start and 28 jump clear. On an ideal day, 50% jump clear. There were lots of unlucky people today, Sam Griffiths broke a stirrup, Pippa was going great but maybe the horse tripped or trod on an overreach boot. Maybe it was the weather.
it’s a funny old job this XC. Last year riders could be 10 secs down at Cottesmore Leap, this year perhaps more people used more of their horse early on and then paid the penalty. Some riders haven’t learnt how to ride Burghley this way round yet.”
Chris Burton asked whether CMP expected the oxer at Discovery Valley to jump as it did, with horses ballooning it. His team mates had told him every horse was ballooning it.
CMP: “I didn’t see that coming. It was supposed to be 6 strides (after it), but if it wasn’t working, they were only ½ way up the bank. Mark Todd had that but corrected it.
CMP had thought it was “a gimmick, but it was the most influential fence because a lot had to go the long route there”. He finished pensively (and ominously!) “It might just be there again next year…”