By James Reid
Olympian Kitty King is hoping three will be the magic number ahead of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials this weekend.
King has made two previous appearances at the storied equestrian event in Stamford, Lincolnshire, both times failing to finish.
But now the Wiltshire rider is back and ready to have another shot at the 5* event, as it returns from a two-year hiatus.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be third time lucky,” said King, who will ride 13-year-old gelding Vendredi Biats around the renowned Burghley course.
“Burghley is always such a fabulous event and so friendly, it’s one I always look forward to go into, even though I’ve never managed to do that well there.
“It’s a beautiful house, amazing grounds. It’s just those childhood dreams, when you’re small and growing up.
“You’re watching all your idols on the television, jumping around Burghley and Badminton – that’s what you always wanted to do so to be able to have those opportunities to compete there, it’s absolutely fantastic.
“They’re very special, iconic places. There’s other 5*s now, throughout the world, but none of them have the draw to them that Badminton and Burghley do.
“They’re the ones that are closest to my heart and they have a lot more prestige.”
King comes into the weekend in strong form, having finished seventh at Badminton in May, followed by an eighth place at 4* Burgham in July.
And the 40-year-old equestrian is hoping to take that form into Burghley, despite the unknowns after a two-year absence and a new course designer in Derek di Grazia, who will succeed Captain Mark Phillips.
“I was lucky enough to go to Badminton this spring and it’s the same type of thing; the anticipation, seeing what they’ve done with the venue, how they’ve changed the courses and just being able to ride in front of proper crowds,” added King.
“The atmosphere at Badminton was absolutely fantastic and I think it’s going to be as good if not better at Burghley.
“We’ve had a really good season, Badminton was his first 5* completion and he finished seventh.
“He jumped a brilliant double clear and did a very good dressage test – he was third after the dressage.
“I was then probably a little bit cautious cross-country, a little bit slow so picked up a few time faults as I wanted to make sure he had a positive first experience and wanted him to come out of it well which he did.
“Hopefully we can really build on that and both he and I have come out of Badminton with a lot more confidence and huge trust in one another.
“I’m really looking forward to giving Burghley a good crack and looking forward to seeing what’s been built on that course. It’s always huge and really undulating, so it’s really exciting to have a look at it all.”
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