Burton fulfills Burghley dream

07 09 2016

Christopher Burton, one of the most talented riders to hit the Eventing circuit in the last few years, emerged victorious on Nobilis 18 at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, final leg of the FEI Classics™ 2015/2016, even if he did live a little dangerously in the closing stages of the competition.

Such was Burton’s supremacy after the first two phases that he entered the Jumping arena with four fences in hand, but he did manage to hit four – if he’d had another he would have handed a sixth Burghley victory to the invincible Andrew Nicholson, who rose a place to be second on Nereo with just one down and a couple of time penalties.

Jonelle Price scored her best CCI4* result this year, third on Classic Moet with just four faults, and her husband, Tim, who had taken the pressure off Burton with his three fences down on Ringwood Sky Boy, ended up in fourth place.

“I tried to keep it interesting for you all,” said Burton wryly. “Nobilis is usually a careful jumper, but he felt a bit tired and the ground was perhaps a little dead, but that’s three-day eventing for you.

“Never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me that I would win Burghley. I’d walked past all the plaques on Winners’ Avenue – all these old boys with their names on them! – and thought it would be nice to have my name there too.”

Andrew Nicholson may not quite count as an “old boy”, but he is 21 years older than Burton and he admits that he is not back to full strength after breaking his neck 12 months ago. “You don’t know how special this is,” he told the television cameras.

And it was particularly appropriate that this result should come on Libby Sellar’s 16-year-old Nereo, three-times a runner-up at Burghley, a winner of World and Olympic medals and a one-man horse with which the Kiwi genius has particular affinity.

Jonelle Price, who scored her best ever Burghley result, admitted that she was disappointed with her Dressage mark, which left her in 22nd place. “I feel as if I’ve been digging myself out of a hole from the start, first after the Dressage and then when I got time penalties with the wrong line at the Dairy Farm on the Cross Country. But now, of course, I’m delighted.”

Cedric Lyard on Cadeau du Roi and Oliver Townend on Samuel Thomas benefited from clear Jumping rounds and rose to fifth and seventh places, split by Bettina Hoy, sixth, who incurred eight faults on Designer 10.

Only three other riders achieved clears over Richard Jeffrey’s influential Jumping track: Shane Rose on Virgil, 16th, Tim Price on Bango, 21st, and Ros Canter on Allstar B, 25th of the 38 finishers. Bill Levett withdrew Improvise overnight when in ninth position.

Andrew Nicholson was also pleasantly surprised to find himself the recipient of 20,000 USD for leaping into third place in the FEI Classics™ 2015/2016, an astonishing achievement considering he has only competed at two CCI4* events this season – he was fifth at Luhmühlen in June.

No one was ever going to catch Michael Jung, the runaway winner of the 40,000 USD FEI Classics™ 2015/2016 first prize with victories at Kentucky and Badminton plus a second place at Pau last year, but Tim Price, who was third at Pau and fourth at Luhmühlen as well, managed to hold onto second place and he takes home a cool 30,000 USD.

It has been an FEI Classics™ season of great thrills and stories, but one man has stolen the show and set the standard: the unmatchable Michael Jung.

Final results at Burghley

1 Christopher Burton/Nobilis 18 (AUS) 30.2 + 3.2 + 16 = 49.4

2 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo (NZL) 35.2 + 12.0 + 6 = 53.2

3 Jonelle Price/Classic Moet (NZL) 48.5 + 1.6 + 4 = 54.1

4 Tim Price/Ringwood Sky Boy (NZL) 38.9 + 6.0 + 12 = 56.9

5 Cedric Lyard/Cadeau du Roi (FRA) 46.0 + 13.6 + 0 = 59.6

6 Bettina Hoy/Designer 10 (GER) 34.5 + 19.2 + 8 = 61.7

7 Oliver Townend/Samuel Thomas ll (GBR) 53.4 + 9.6 + 0 = 63.0

8 Caroline Powell/Onwards and Upwards (NZL) 37.8 + 21.6 + 5 = 64.4

9 Sir Mark Todd/NZB Campino (NZL) 42.2 + 16.8 + 8 = 67.0

10 Kristina Cook/Star Witness (GBR) 52.9 + 12.0 + 4 = 68.9