The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials**** was not the right place, right time for two leading American eventers this weekend. One of the world's most challenging events, coming just four weeks on the heels of the Olympics was filled with newly-returned Olympic riders and their non-Olympic mounts.
American Stephen Bradley didn't get past the pre-event trotup on Wednesday. His horse, Brandenburg Joshua, was rejected by the ground jury, so he did not start. For whatever reason, our friends at Horse and Hound shared a video of that inspection, so you call all see for yourselves.
And then there was Philip Dutton. Pennsylvania's Aussie-turned-American had our hearts in our throats as he rocketed around the grueling technical cross-country course yesterday to finish within the time, with no penalties. He went forward to today's show jumping on his dressage score, wedged in second place between William Fox Pitt's two super-star non-Hong Kong horses, Ballincoola and Tamarillo.
Did I mention it was raining?
Both Fox-Pitt and Dutton had high praise for the grounds crew at Burghley for keeping the track safe for their hard-galloping horses in spite of steady rain.
All were set for a tense jumpoff this afternoon in the show ring...but Dutton withdrew, saying that Woodburn was lame and could not compete. (sigh)
Let nothing take a thing away from England's William Fox-Pitt, who took not one but two horses to the top of the eventing game. He finished one-two, followed amazingly by Mary King in 3-4.
The bold Anglo-Arab Tamarillo not only aced the cross-country, his show jumping was a clear round as well. To finish a four-star event on your dressage score is an amazing accomplishment.
Fox-Pitt's second place horse, the Irish Ballincoola, completed his sixth Burghley and now will leave Fox-Pitt's fleet. He has completed the event every time, and won once. Fox-Pitt has now won Burghley five times and, with this win, holds the commanding lead in the HSBC FEI Classics series, which awards a prize of $150,000 to the leading international rider in four-star events. Dutton had been challenging Fox-Pitt after his win at Rolex in Kentucky last spring.
Burghley is broadcast live on the BBC in Great Britain and has a fantastic web site with great tech features and an impressive amount of information.