Padraig McCarthy took plenty of positives from his debut at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, as he finished 19th on HHS Noble Call.
The Beaworthy-based rider initially struggled in the dressage before roaring back with a clear cross-country round and ending the weekend with a few faults in the show jumping.
McCarthy, 45, was making his maiden bow at the iconic 5* event, having only taken up the sport in his thirties after initially completing a PhD.
And the equestrian is positive about what is to come after his first taste of one of the toughest events on offer.
“It’s been a good week on the whole,” said McCarthy. “I had a great trip around the cross-country yesterday.
“He warmed up really good for the show jumping, unfortunately lowered a couple of poles but it felt smooth, a few times he just wasn’t high enough.
“But I’m incredibly proud of the horse and how he handled the cross-country yesterday. I look forward to coming back again next year.”
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials returned bigger and better than ever in 2022 after two years away due to Covid-19.
While much was the same, one of the biggest changes was the cross-country course which saw its debut design from Tokyo Olympic designer Derek di Grazia.
The course proved challenging, with world no.1 Oliver Townend falling off both his mounts, but while McCarthy and Noble Call soared through the pair then struggled on the final day.
He added: “I had a plan to go in to take out a couple of strides as the time was very tight in the morning session.
“Sadly he just didn’t jump high enough on a few occasions. He didn’t feel spooky, it was a nice ride, the poles just came down.”
McCarthy’s focus now turns to the World Championships in Pratoni, Italy in two weeks’ time, with the Irish team seeking qualification for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
And the Tipperary man is confident the team will do what is required.
“We have quite a solid team,” added McCarthy. “I think it will be quite hard to beat the Brits and possibly the Germans.
“For us, the goal is qualification for the Olympics in 2024 and that’s very doable.
“If we go to the best of our ability and other teams have a blip we could get close to the podium.”
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