With two overnight withdrawals, Imogen Gloag with Brendonhill Doublet in 40th place and Bill Levett with Improvise in 9th (how gutting for them), only 38 went forward to the SJ phase, all horses having passed the trot-up.
The morning session showed that the SJ course was not a soft one, with only two clears, for Tim Price with Bango and Ros Canter and Allstar B. The treble in particular looked short-striding and was really catching all but the most careful horses out.
Oliver Townend, with two of his three rides still in the competition, therefore jumping slightly out of order, was the first back into the arena at 2.30pm. Dromgurrihy Blue looked a picture and was presented in a lovely rhythm but rolled 6 poles.
Becky Woolven and the lovely Charlton Down Riverdance pulled up to 12th place, an awesome result for a first timer. She was the 4th best British rider.
Shane Rose and Virgil were next in, in 23rd position overnight. Virgil looked super-careful and nailed a clear, very very useful on a day like today.
Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive had just one down in a tidy round, dropping down just 1 place at the time, but eventually climbing 6 places.
Mark Kyle and Jesmond Justice had 6 down plus time, the horse looking casual with his hind legs in particular
Becky Woolven and Charlton Down Riverdance had 2 down, in a lovely round, just tapping those out, but a very solid performance for the future.
Harry Dzenis and Xam had 12 down, in a round that was definitely one to forget, the horse just tapping them and rolling them… no crashes, but not careful enough today.
Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless for the USA had 3 down, Dan Jocelyn and Dassett Cool Touch had 3 down, Holly Payne-Caravella 5 down, Joseph Murphy and DHI Top Story 4 down and 1 time, and Andrew Hoy, absolutely resplendent in a sky blue jacket and a turquoise helmet (no, really) and Rutherglen, had 6 down. Sarah Bullimore and Reve du Rouet had 7 down. This was turning into cricket, not show-jumping…
Things started looking up. Sarah Cohen and Treason had only 2 down, a very good score for today!
Tina Cook and Star Witness just the penultimate white gate down, to finish on 69.9, and clinch a top 10 finish.
Blyth Tait and Bear Necessity V had a lucky round, rattling quite a few, some bouncing in the cups but staying up, but one fell and he added 1 time fault, to finish on 69 in 11th place.
Oliver Townend and Samuel Thomas II clinched a great clear, to finish on 63.0 penalties. This moved them up to 7th place, from 10th overnight and 42nd after the dressage, an impressive climb up the leaderboard.
Cedric Lyard and Cadeau du Roi was another to be a bit lucky, with some rubs here and there, but he nailed a vital clear for eventual 5th place.
Caroline Powell and Onwards and Upwards had an unlucky one down plus 1 time, the horse jumping superbly and giving some of the fences a huge amount of air, to secure 8th.
Sir Mark Todd and NZB Campino disappointingly had the last of the treble and the very last fence down, to drop to 9th.
Bettina Hoy and Designer 10 had 2 down to drop to 6th, and Speed Queens Jonelle Price and Classic Moet, on 50.1 in 4th place overnight, crucially had only one fence down, to clinch 3rd place.
Andrew Nicholson, or, as he shall henceforth be known, Superman, and Nereo, very frustratingly had the back bar of the triple bar and 2 time, to finish on 53.2 and secure 2nd… the horse’s third time coming 2nd here.
Tim Price’s Ringwood Sky Boy rather steps his fences, giving supporters heart attacks… they had 3 down to drop 2 places on 56.4, eventual 4th place.
Chris Burton came in with 4 fences in hand, and needed all of them. Nobilis 18 was rather low-flying too, and had 4 down, but his lead was so great that he still managed to clinch the win, on 49.4 penalties.
The fact that there were only 5 clears in the SJ phase shows how tough it was. The ground looked a bit sticky and the difficult distances, shallow cups, and many big oxers in particular, plus the big white gate 2 from home heading towards the collecting ring, took a lot of scalps.
All possible credit to Christopher Burton. To lead throughout at Burghley in such a tough year is an enormous accomplishment, hopefully some consolation for his Olympics disappointment. The final results board is HERE.
It’s been a great Burghley. There were dramas in all 3 phases, really testing courses, and a very worthy winner. Oh, and the tradestands were the best ever. I’ll leave the final word to the person (I had better keep their identity secret) who proudly said on Wednesday: “All four star events are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
All photos copyright of Katie Neat Photography.