Smales seeking big improvement after disappointing opening day at Burghley Horse Trials

·2-min read
Angus Smales (GBR) riding ESI Pheonix during dressage stage of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, in the park land surrounding Burghley House near Stamford in Lincolnshire in the UK between 31st August - 4th September 2022 (Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials)

By Tom Masters at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

Angus Smales admits he will need to raise his game after a below-par opening day performance at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

The Leicestershire rider, 35, was hoping to impress the judges and believed his horse ESI Phoenix was capable of a sub-30 score, only to be frustrated with a couple of sloppy mistakes.

Those errors saw him awarded a total of 33.7, leaving him even more determined to deliver during Saturday’s showpiece cross-country event.

Smales said: “I’m not happy, is the short answer, it just doesn’t really reflect where he’s at.

“He went round the corner at canter, trot, canter and that set the tone for the judges I think.

“They then think I’ve got a tense horse and then I have to try and show that actually it’s not a tense horse, he’s just razor sharp.

“But he flicked and then made a mistake, and then I really tried to show them look he is actually really relaxed, he genuinely is, please give me a mark, and then he does it again.

“It’s life isn’t it, there’s no point crying about it, we can’t change it now, I’ve got to give myself a kick up the bum ahead of Saturday.”

Melton Mowbray rider Emma Hyslop-Webb was also in action on day one at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, and believes that the prestigious cross-country event on Saturday will be a challenge after her first look at the demanding course.

She said: “I’ve had a first glance round and I think there are clearly some lines that look nicer and some don’t that look nice, so yeah there are a few more walks needed I think.

“I’ve got another dressage tomorrow so I’m not sure when I will be able to catch a course walk.

“The atmosphere is great as always, but I followed Tim [Price’s] round of applause and Pippa [Funnell’s] round of applause as I bounced in which probably wasn’t ideal.”

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