King makes storming start to Defender Burghley Horse Trials

King makes storming start to Defender Burghley Horse Trials

By Ben Hart

Emily King made a storming start at the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials as she looks to follow in the footsteps of mother Mary in becoming a 5* winner.

King, 27, who is based near Holywell, scored 30.0 with Valmy Biats in Thursday’s dressage, which placed her second at the lunch interval, just a few marks behind Badminton and European Champion Ros Canter.

King, whose mother ruled supreme with Star Appeal in 1996, believes her horse has what it takes to join a star-studded winners list if he can keep his emotions in check.

“He was really good, very rideable and it’s his first time here, so a completely new atmosphere and he was super, so I’m really pleased,” said King.

“He’s a strong horse, he’s not that big but he’s very powerful and game on, so that’s fantastic but it’s a case of keeping him listening and waiting at the beginning and having enough in the tank at the end.

“He quite likes to go all guns blazing and burn himself out mentally as much as anything.”

It may be King’s first trip to Burghley House as a competitor, but she is no stranger to the event’s splendour.

Her mother Mary regularly challenged for the top prize and King revealed she is hoping to use that expertise to fuel her own medal charge.

“It’s my first time but I’ve been a few times with mum, so I know how it works and what the drill is, but it’s definitely very different when you are doing it yourself,” she said. “I was tiny when mum won it.

“I’m going to try and use all her tips to help. She knows how Valmy responds to the bigger tracks and can hopefully give a little help to keep us going.

“I’ve had a little look at the track but I’ll have a good look before the cross-country on Saturday.

“The going is fantastic, it’s a different way round so it will be interesting to see how the horses who have been here before cope with the different direction.

“We will give it our best shot but our main aim is to get him home safely to be able to have him jump on Sunday.”

Defender Burghley Horse Trials (31st August - 3 September 2023) has been a major international sporting and social event for over 50 years. It attracts the world’s top equestrians and over 170,000 visitors. For more information visit