Thrilling competition at Burghley produces a nail biting finish to a fantastic weekend of sport.

Guest Blog By Jacqui Broderick

 

After a spring marred by drought the heaven’s opened just in time to swamp the summer

schedule of events and shows. Badminton was the first to go followed by Chatsworth and

a host of others. After a summer which broke all records for rainfall the week leading up to

Burghley was a tense one. Would the rain which had fallen by the bucket load stay off long

enough for the event to be held? Thankfully it did and lovers of all things equestrian flooded

into the breathtaking parkland surrounding Burghley House.

 

Of course every event of this size can’t be hosted without its share of problems. Ours came in

the form of a hotel that refused to be found, even with the most precise of directions and then

there was the cheerful bowler hat clad official who gaily waved a stream of vehicles in the

wrong direction, only for us to be parked patiently on the road for an hour before some bright

spark realised something was very definitely wrong.

 

But, bumping slowly over fields of barely dry mud, not daring to contemplate what the tracks

would be like if the ominously grey skies gave us yet another downpour, it was impossible

not to feel a huge surge of excitement when the magnificent opulence of Burghley House

came into view.

 

It wasn’t hard to imagine how Sinead Halpin had to be feeling over the weekend. The 30 year

old American had nothing but success during the US 2011 season. However she still failed

to win a place on the ultimately unsuccessful Olympic squad. Halpin, with her French bred

Manoir de Carneville lead after the dressage at Burghley. Her penalty score of 36.3 put her

ahead of the following nine horses all closely bunched with scores in the early 40s.

 

The cross country course rode beautifully for most of the competitors. Mary King retired

after an unfortunate run out in the early stages of the cross country. It is a tribute to the

bravery and long hours of training the horses and riders put in how easy they made the big

solid obstacles look.

 

Halpin, a former pupil of eventing maestro William Fox Pitt, retained her lead after cross

country and thus was the last to compete in the show jumping arena. The red post boxes

which caused so much trouble in the Olympics proved to be the bogey fence yet again being

thudding to the ground time after time. Such was its power that riders that did leave the red

poles standing seemed to go to pieces with relief after it and forget to ride the remaining

fences properly.

 

Every one of the spectators must have been rooting for Sinead Halpin as she rode into the

arena with two fences in hand. What a fairy tale a Burghley win would be. Sadly it was not

her day and the support of the spectators was not enough to keep the fences standing with

three eventually clattering to the ground to make Andrew Nicholson the eventual winner.

Riding Rosemary and Mark Barlow’s 12-year-old Avebury, the New Zealander went into

the ring in second place and had one fence down, the final element of the treble at six. This

guaranteed him the runner-up spot and gave Halpin two fences in hand.

 

Unfortunately for Halpin Manoir De Carneville hit fence three, fence nine and the second

part of the double at 12 ultimately giving them second place and giving Nicholson his third

Burghley title, twelve years since his last one.

 

William Fox-Pitt, attempting to win his seventh Burghley title, and Parklane Hawk rose from

joint fourth after the dressage to finish in third place after the cross-country phase.

 

Burghley was not the place for the Irish riders to shine. Geoff Curran’s ride the chestnut

Shanaclough Crecora, who lay in 10th place after cross country, was spun on Sunday morning

on re-inspection after being sent to the holding box. Sam Watson finished the best of the Irish

riders coming 30th on Horseware Bushman with a final penalty score of 87.

 

Taking her defeat with true stoicism Halpin said: “I’m disappointed but I’m also proud of

him(Manoir De Carneville) — he tried really hard. This week has been amazing — I’m so

lucky to have the horse and we’ll be back again and again and again.”

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