Burghley Horse Trials: what an amazing experience!!!

So I just came back home from the Burghley Horse Trials, I didn't have much time to blog while I was there...I was too busy posting the videos. I figured it would be more interesting to see the incredible performances than to read my chitchat.
Ok, so I was there because my company sponsors Phillip Dutton, Buck Davidson and Karen O'Connor, and they were all selected to be part of the US team competing at Burghley.
Upon my arrival, the first thing that really struck me is how beautiful the site is. The horse show is on the grounds of Burghley House, which is an Elizabethan house (i.e. palace) that you can visit, but it was closed during the show.

The show is very well organized with a big arena for the dressage and show jumping and outside the arena there's a public square with a giant screen and results board so you never miss any of the action.

The Members Enclosure (i.e. VIP section) is a separate section with its own restaurants & outdoor/indoor areas. Dogs aren't allowed in that section so people would "park" them along the fence, which had its doggie water fountain (see picture). I thought it was hilarious. Don't worry, they didn't leave them there long...they are very dog-friendly in England.
On the little stage, there was a band playing during lunch.

On Thursday, Phillip finished 1st in dressage which was fantastic. Phillip's groom Emma told me it was the best Milo (aka Truluck) had ever been. US rider Allison Springer also had a very good start on Friday, placing 7th. On Friday, Oliver Townend got the best dressage score, he would be hard to beat with clean rounds the rest of the weekend.
Saturday was cross-country day. It was a perfect, sunny day. The XC started at 11:00AM, but by 9:00 all the roads to the horse show were jammed. I was told, 900 000 people were expected. I don't know if they do this all the time in England, but there was a tail-gate party going on...except it was champagne & strawberries instead of beer & hotdogs. On the course, the fences were huge & scary-looking. I was at fence #14 (i.e. the coffin) so I could also catch a bit of action on fence #19. Many riders didn't make it this far, several had trouble at Discovery Valley (fence #6) and got eliminated. There were at least 4-5 falls, thankfully nothing serious.
On Sunday, the showjumping was great. It started with a parade of riders, where all the riders come out on their horses and parade around the stadium. The announcer introduces all the horses & riders. It was a lot of fun...a bit like the Olympics where all the countries parade and people cheer.
Buck Davidson who was in 25th place after dressage, moved up to 16th in XC, had a great showjumping round and finished 11th overall. He was competing while having a hernia that he popped back in...and was scheduled for surgery today in the US. I thought it was a bit nuts...but he just told me "this horse deserves it!"
Phillip ended up with a clean round but went over the time allowed. He placed 4th overall = big smiles in the Dutton camp. The victory went to Oliver Townend, who also won Badminton earlier this year which puts him in contention for the Rolex Grand Slam if he also wins the Rolex Horse Trials in Lexington, KY next May.
After his win, there was a bit of Oli-mania, where he threw his gloves into the crowd & they went nuts. What a showman!
Also, they had 2 spitfires fly over the stadium at the end of the showjumping....apparently they do this every year. I thought it was spectacular.
A few words about the shopping: it's just crazy!!!! More than 600 shops from food to furniture (think stoves and fridges) and everything in between. I got lost at least 3 times in the shopping village. There is even a pharmacy and a "shopping drop-off" stand where people can leave their bags while they see the horse show. Nuff said.

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