By James Reid at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials
Angus Smales overcame initial nerves to successfully get around Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials’ infamous cross-country course on Saturday.
The East Norton equestrian powered through in 13:34 to leave him in 26th place ahead of Sunday’s show jumping finale.
And while the result, which saw Smales pick up 53.6 penalties, may have left the 35-year-old out of the running at the top, the eventer is simply pleased to make it round a course that claimed a number of fallers.
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is back bigger and better than ever in 2022 after two missed years due to Covid-19, and new course designer Derek di Grazia’s test proved challenging for many.
And Smales admitted he was worried after seeing riders fail to make the time, before settling them out on the track.
“He was very very good,” beamed Smales.
“You watch the first few and they’re way over the time on fast horses and I’m sat here knowing that mine - this is the first time I’ve had him anywhere near fit enough for a 5* - *. I was unsure how he’d cope with the terrain.
“At the Dairy Mound he was asleep, and I thought this is one step too far. I went long at Cottesmore Leap which is against my religion really as it’s a bread-and-butter fence but the horse was asleep.
“I went the long route which was 25 seconds and then giving it down the avenue.
“He came home faster than he was going at the Dairy Mound, and if we do one more that one should be his time.”
While Smales made it safely round, it was disappointment for Melton Mowbray’s Emma Hyslop-Webb who fell on first horse Waldo III and retired her second Darrant to exit the iconic 5* ahead of the final day of competition.
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