Tom McEWEN extolled the virtues of horse CHF Cooliser as the pair ended the dressage section of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in seventh place.
The duo scored 25.6 in their dressage test, and the Olympic gold medallist was thrilled with the efforts of his horse who was deputising for first-choice steed Toledo ahead of the World Championships.
The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials are back bigger and better than ever for 2022 after two absent years due to Covid-19, and Gatcombe Park-based McEwen was delighted to return to one of eventing’s biggest stages with a strong start.
“She was phenomenal, her outline was much better, her way of going – everything, I couldn’t ask for more,” said McEwen.
“She was fantastic, PB by a long way, lovely change – it was more Pau-esque, I made a few too many errors at Badminton this year but really capped it off today.”
McEwen is set to represent Great Britain in the World Championships in Pratoni, Italy in the coming weeks and sees this week at Burghley as perfect preparation.
The Gloucestershire rider showed off the team’s dressage routine alongside his fellow international riders at the end of competition on Thursday afternoon.
And McEwen felt it was a benefit to be able to perform in front of a bumper crowd.
“It was lovely to be able to come out and run through the test,” he added.
“Getting back out there with a full Burghley crowd is phenomenal, it’s second to none.
“You don’t get that many pure dressage competitions that have this many people watching so it was amazing.”
McEwen will travel to Italy with high hopes of individual glory having taken Olympic silver in Tokyo a year ago, but the 31-year-old insists his main focus is on the team event.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said McEwen, who also won team gold in Tokyo. “Back on the team on Toledo after such a fantastic Olympics last year.
“It’s a phenomenal team on paper, and there’s many on the list that could be going which is quite exceptional.
“First and foremost is team qualification, we need to get that box ticked and have two years of preparation for that big day in Paris.
“It’s a box that we really want to get ticked so we can crack on with an amazing squad of riders and horses.”
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