Tim Price is not getting carried away just yet despite a storming dressage test that leaves him second in the standings at the end of day two at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Price and horse Vitali put in a performance that earned a score of 21.3, just 0.1 behind overnight leader Kitty King.
The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials are back bigger and better than ever after two missed years due to Covid-19, with Kiwi Price hoping to reclaim the crown he won in 2018.
But the Marlborough-based eventer knows that much will be decided by the notoriously difficult cross-country course on Saturday.
“It was cool wasn’t it?,” beamed Price. “It’s fun when it goes as well as you can hope it to go.
“He’s a feisty little cross-country horse. Those jumps look big when I’m thinking of him skipping over them compared to other guys.
“When they’re a smaller model it’s a tougher job but he’s always been a great cross-country horse which is why I’ve brought him here, I believe in him. It’s a long way round and you need everything to feel good.
“I’ve got to remember he’s a green 5* horse and a first-timer at Burghley so I have to go how he needs to go in order to bring him home healthy and set him up for the future.
“That’s the first priority and anything else is a bonus.”
Burghley’s cross-country course is famed as one of the world’s toughest, and there is even more anticipation this year with new designer Derek di Grazia taking the reins.
The American, who designed the Tokyo Olympic course, succeeded Captain Mark Phillips but Price doesn’t believe there will be too much change.
“I think it’s going to be a challenge,” added Price. “Big and Burghley like.
“We have a new designer this year in Derek di Grazia and he’s had Captain Mark Phillips helping him a bit because he’s definitely kept the theme of what we come here to do and what we love at Burghley which is big, and bold, and strong.”
Price is also riding two other horses, Bango and Polystar I, making the New Zealander the busiest rider of the weekend.
And the 43-year-old is relishing being back at such an historic event.
“It’s incredible,” said Price. “Of all the places you can get a victory, this is the one you dream of, especially when you first start at this level.
“It’s so daunting, it’s so big, to then actually take that through to be successful is a dream come true.”
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