Piggy March admits it would be a true fairytale to win the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials aboard 17-year-old steed Vanir Kamira.
The pair made a blistering start to their campaign by posting a personal best score of 22.6 in the dressage test - the fifth best at Burghley of all-time - to go second in the standings on day one.
Maidwell-based March admitted the duo come into Burghley, back bigger and better than ever after a two-year absence due to Covid-19, as one of the favourites.
But despite the pressure and expectation, March admits it would be a dream to cap off Vanir Kamira’s career with a win at one of eventing’s most storied events.
“I’d love her to go out winning or being right up there,” said March. “That would be a fairytale.
“But we all know with horses you can be flat on your bum at fence two and your dreams are all over, so you just take each minute and each step as it comes.
“These days are bonuses; if she won, it’s a complete massive fairytale that I wouldn’t even be able to describe how I felt.
“I want her to finish being the great horse that she always was, if something goes wrong, something goes wrong, but she owes all of us nothing, she owes the sport nothing.
“She’s given us some great days, I just want her to finish fit and well and finish happy and enjoy Burghley once more with her.”
March punched the air in celebration upon seeing her score that sees her sit just 0.1 points behind Sarah Bullimore at the end of day one, with half the riders still to complete their dressage tests.
And while March believed a strong score was on the cards for the pair, the 42-year-old revealed her shock at such a low score.
“I think she deserved a personal best with how she’s felt of late,” added March.
“I think I put quite a lot of pressure on it, like we do, like we should do at this level.
“I actually thought to start with she got too hot, she got sweaty, she went to pull herself up at the beginning and I thought ‘oh no have I got her on the button’
“But I felt very on edge throughout, but she kept very expressive and she didn’t make any mistakes, so I was delighted.
“I was hoping to see a 24.9 or a 25.2 or something like that so to see 22 for her is amazing so I’m just so proud of her.
“She’s not necessarily a horse that people would try as a young horse or think she can win Badminton, but what you can get out of her from just her guts and her heart and what she gives you as a horse on the big days is what has made her, and totally 110% respect for that, she’s one in a lifetime for me.”
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