By James Reid
Eventer Phil Brown is trying to treat his debut at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials like any other event, despite the pressure that comes with competing at his first-ever 5* competition.
Brown, 35, will make his 5* bow at Burghley, one of just six events worldwide with the highest-possible classification, amidst the fabled hills that surround Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
But the Yorkshire native, who now calls Stamford his home, insists he is trying to stay as relaxed as possible ahead of one of the flagship dates in the equestrian calendar.
“I’m just going to try and stay focused and just do what we normally do,” said Brown, speaking ahead of the event that is back for the first time in two years - due to the Covid-19 pandemic - better than ever, with renewed impetus, a top class field and additional activities on offer.
“I’m going there with no expectation. I’m trying to say to myself it’s just another event.
“I’ve had the horse since he was six years old so we know each other inside out. I’m hoping that every 4* we’ve done counts towards that experience in the bank.
“Just take each phase as it comes and enjoy the experience, there is an achievement in just getting there.
“This year, the goal has been to finish the qualification and try and get to Burghley.”
The iconic event returns for the first time since 2019 after two years away due to Covid-19, and anticipation is higher than ever as the equestrian world descends on Lincolnshire.
And for Brown, it is a case of finally having his time to shine after never competing despite qualifying for Burghley in 2016.
He added: “It’s my first time going as a competitor. It feels like a long time coming. I qualified for six years ago but with injury I never got there.
“It feels like it’s been a long six years trying to get back to that point. All the hard work it takes to get one there, it’s all finally going to happen.
“It’s incredible. It is literally like living a dream. You don’t think it’s going to happen until you get there.”
Brown left his local Scarborough to pursue his eventing career, having started riding aged 11 before beginning eventing aged 18.
The 35-year-old is now based just outside Stamford, Lincolnshire, where the 16th-century Burghley House looms large.
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The buzz ahead of Burghley’s much-anticipated return has been growing in the town, and Brown is hopeful that some home support can spur him to a strong finish on debut.
“I come from a completely non-equestrian background,” said Brown. “My parents have been very supportive.
“I went to the local pony club about 11, didn’t actually start competing until 18.
“Our yard is so local, we’ve got quite a lot of momentum behind us – that means a lot, it’s quite surreal.
“A lot of the people I coach in Yorkshire are going to come down and watch and I’m one of the youth coaches for the East Midlands; I’ve got a lot of support from people around here.
“My yard is literally over the road, you can see it from the house, the buzz in Stamford is building because it’s back.”
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