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The electrifying atmosphere which surrounded Britain’s leading riders at the Olympics is set to continue this weekend in front of a bumper crowd at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials at Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Two members of Britain’s silver medal eventing team, William Fox-Pitt and Mary King, will be prominent, plus German gold medallist Dirk Schrade and four of the bronze medal New Zealand team, Andrew Nicholson, Mark Todd, Jock Paget and Caroline Powell.
In addition there are numerous others who will be anxious to make an impression after so many events, including Badminton, were cancelled due to wet weather, plus the phalanx of international riders who travelled to Britain in the hope of making the cut for the Olympics.
As a result, Burghley has been inundated with entries and has been accepting them off a waiting list on a daily basis, with the plan to run a larger than normal field of up to 90.
There is much at stake for William Fox-Pitt, who could make history with his 50th international victory, which would seal his status as the most successful event rider of all time.
He has already won Burghley a record six times and currently heads the 2011-2012 HSBC FEI Classics rankings, which links the world’s six 4-star horse trials and for which this competition is the decider.
His only challenger for the £95,000 first prize in the Classics is world number one Andrew Nicholson, who will not hesitate to capitalise if Fox-Pitt fails to get a high enough placing at Burghley to stay on top of the leaderboard.
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Fox-Pitt rides the classy thoroughbred Parklane Hawk, his Burghley winner last year, plus the experienced Seacookie; Nicholson has the beautiful grey Avebury, second in 2011, plus either Calico Joe or Mr Cruise Control.
But it’s not all about these two competitors; others expected to play a big part include British team reserve Lucy Wiegersma, Ireland’s Sam Watson, who was devastated not to be selected for the Olympics, former winners Pippa Funnell and Oliver Townend, plus Sam Griffiths and Clayton Fredericks of the beleaguered Australian squad and the USA’s Allison Springer, runner-up behind Fox-Pitt at Kentucky in April.
The action starts with dressage on Thursday and Friday, cross-country on Saturday and what promises to be a nail-biting show jumping climax on Sunday.
For the running order, see www.burghley-horse.co.uk
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