Globetrotter Heffernan at home in the saddle for Burghley Horse Trials

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Andrew Heffernan will return to Burghley Horse Trials after an eight year absence

Cheshire rider Andrew Heffernan has a globetrotting past but it’s with horses where the he feels most at home writes Tom Masters.

The 47-year-old is set for his second appearance at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in September despite only first mounting a horse aged 13.

Born in Hong Kong before moving to the UK aged 10, Heffernan has enjoyed a storied career representing the Netherlands, including an appearance at the London 2012 Olympics.

“Mum took us, when I was 13 maybe, to a local riding school and I kind of got the bug really,” said Heffernan.

“I used to race as a kid. When we moved from Hong Kong, the opportunities to race bikes around the streets weren’t as much, so I had to find my adrenaline kick elsewhere and that happened to me in the form of horses.”

Cheshire-based Heffernan enjoyed a long international career for the Netherlands, and was offered the chance to coach the national team, one that he jumped at.

But the 47-year-old knew he wasn’t ready to reign in his own time in the saddle just yet, so now splits his time between his own eventing career and his coaching.

“I rode for them internationally for a good number of years and they wanted to replace the former coach,” added Heffernan.

“They approached me about taking on the role and I knew I hadn’t finished my riding, so it was how I can combine the two.

“I keep my coaching job with the Netherlands and my own personal eventing very separate.

“So far, there hasn’t been a crossover. Burghley week, I’ll have my riding head on and I’ll be focusing on that and then two weeks later, I’ll be at the world championships with the team and I’ll be focused on that.

“I think it’s really healthy.”

Heffernan will attend his second Burghley, one of the showpiece events in the eventing world, alongside horse Gideon II.

And the Dutchman admits he feels little pressure going into the weekend on such a new horse, despite the pedigree of the event.

“I feel very little pressure, I’m there to enjoy it and hopefully we’ll have a good result,” said Heffernan.

“The horse that I’ve entered is quite green, I’m not really sure what to expect. He went well at Bramham, so I’m hopeful and quite focused on doing well.

“I’m also going to have to go into it with a fairly open mind and I’m interested to see how the horse takes to it.

“Around the bigger tracks that I’ve jumped him round, he’s actually got better, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s a really important event, it’s steeped in tradition and heritage

“There isn’t a huge field, so all eyes really are on us. I’d like to rise to that occasion but it’s always a little bit intimidating.

“I’m looking forward to it and it’s certainly going to be a good occasion.”

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (1-4 September 2022) returns after a two-year hiatus, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A major international sporting and social event for over 50 years it attracts 80 of the world’s top equestrians and over 170,000 visitors. For more information visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk