Padraig McCarthy delivered on his promise of a strong cross-country with a breath-taking run at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials writes Tom Masters.
McCarthy, 45, is competing in his first ever Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, and after a dressage score of 38.6 left him some way down the rankings, he responded with a superb cross-country time of 11.54, 34 seconds over the optimal time, which was met by just one rider of the 52 on the start list.
That saw him given 13.6 penalty points, which sees the Devon based equestrian rise up to 20th place going into Sunday’s show jumping finale, made even more impressive by the fact the three riders before did not reach the finish line for various reasons on a challenging Burghley course.
And McCarthy was delighted to get over the finish line in such a good time.
He said: “It was pretty good, he gave me a very comfortable ride and rode to the plan and the horse is a cross-country machine.
“He’s not a thoroughbred but he’s a stayer, he didn’t quite get the time but he fought and fought and stayed jumping all the way through.
“It’s very intense right from the beginning, surprisingly my fella took a big breath after just three minutes.
“It’s the intensity of the jumping efforts, and then the turning and the crowds, then throw in the terrain and the fact every jump is a big jump - that all really takes it out of a horse.”
On his first ever attempt at the iconic Lincolnshire soil, McCarthy admits he had a few nerves coming into it, but he was delighted with how he rode around it and praised new course designer Derek di Grazia for his first Burghley course after taking over from Captain Mark Phillips.
“I’ve never been here before so I was a bit anxious about the Leafpit and other big jumps, but with this horse you don’t need to worry about anything,” he said.
“He was amazing, it’s my pleasure, when I bought the horse I said he was a horse for Burghley, so to bring him here is really nice and I’m very proud of him.
“It’s Burghley so it’s never going to ride like you walk it, and it’s cross-country riding, you have to react.
“It’s very intense and the horse felt it, it’s big and it’s twisty.
“The course is fantastic, to come here off the back of Mark Phillips must be pretty daunting but he’s put his stamp on it.”
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