McEwen thrilled despite hit-and-miss cross-country at Burghley Horse Trials

·3-min read
McEwen is already looking ahead to what CHF Cooliser can achieve next year at Burghley.
McEwen is already looking ahead to what CHF Cooliser can achieve next year at Burghley.

By James Reid at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

Tom McEwen believes the best is yet to come from horse CHF Cooliser as the pair were left 14th after the cross-country stage of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

The duo picked up 11 penalties when going round the notoriously difficult course, but the individual eventing Olympic silver medallist felt there were plenty of positives to take from their run.

“She was amazing,” said the Gatcombe Park rider, whose first-choice horse Toledo was not running at the iconic 5* ahead of the World Championships later this month.

"She is a chestnut mare, she lives for cross-country and she finds every single flag possible and she will jump anything from anywhere but at the same time, she will sometimes do it in her own style.

“Sometimes there are a few lack of communications, but actually she was fantastic.

“I didn’t quite get into a rhythm early enough. For whatever reason, I didn’t get quite the right line that I wanted sadly in the main ring.

She’s going to massively improve from this, from such a game mare, I expect her to fly around Badminton next year and then be a hardier mare and ready for what Burghley throws at you.”

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is back bigger and better than ever in 2022 after two years away due to Covid-19, with crowds flocking to the flagship date in the eventing calendar.

Of particular interest was how new course designer Derek di Grazia’s efforts would fare, and McEwen felt the American had done a good job on the whole.

“There are many similarities [between the previous course and this one]. 110% still Burghley,” added McEwen.

“I do think the intensity at the start was a heck of a lot for them but I understood it and I think he’s the greatest course designer we’ve got at the moment, so definitely not taking anything away.

“But at the same time, these are 5* horses and we are entertainment and you saw people who weren’t ready, being wise and making the right decision.

"At the same time you saw Piggy [March] make it look like a pony club event, you have to really balance it out.”

It was nearly a disastrous start for McEwen, who set off on his run with just seconds to spare after mounting CHF Cooliser at the very last moment.

But the 31-year-old revealed it was all part of the plan.

“I usually never get on her at all until the start box,” said McEwen.

“This morning we did actually trot around outside and then we get on at the start box because she gets so excited and she also can get her knickers in a twist. So, it’s an easier way to keep her calm, jumping on her and off she goes.

“[Fence] 1, 2 and 3, I mean they just build you up into the course anyway so you don’t need to jump a thousand fences testing that you’re ready for a line coming up.

“You should hopefully be ready when you get here, so, it is just a way of keeping her real calm and collected but it does sometimes mean for the first one you can be looking for some steer and find a stride.

“We’ve done it for a while and we will continue to do so, it has worked like a treat for us.”

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