Swain ready for Burghley bow after a whirlwind 12 months since Bicton turning point

·2-min read
Surrey-based Swain, 33, will ride Solo at the Burghley Horse Trials.
Surrey-based Swain, 33, will ride Solo at the Burghley Horse Trials.

Hollie Swain’s preparation for the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials was transformed a year ago, writes Tom Masters.

Surrey-based Swain, 33, was riding her horse Solo, or Freddie as he is affectionately known, at Bicton 12 months ago and a 24th-placed finish helped her realise her dreams could come true.

Now after a three-year Covid-enforced hiatus, Burghley returns – with Swain and Solo set to make their bow.

And Swain looks back to that moment at Bicton as a vital moment in her career.

She said: “Last season we had a great run and started to think that maybe he was a Burghley horse.

“It was really that confidence he gave me in the cross-country at Bicton which was really the feeling where I thought ‘yeah, I’m sitting on a Burghley horse’.

“We did the 4* Longview and he gave me a fabulous cross country run.

“So I guess it was probably there too that I thought I was sitting on a Burghley horse.”

If last season was the one in which Swain believed in Solo’s ability to compete at Burghley, she believes this season was equally important as the duo conquered their first 5* event.

She said: “We did Luhmuhlen in the spring, obviously in Germany, and that was a first 5* event for both of us.

“So looking back, it's probably the best season that I've had in terms of reaching this level.

“I guess you don't really have much time for reflection, especially during the season because you're always pushing for the next thing.

“And obviously now with Burghley around the corner, there's still plenty ahead of us that needs to be done.

“I've always had quite a lot of belief in his cross-country and he's very honest with corners, so that's obviously given me a lot of confidence going into next week.”

And with Burghley fast approaching, Swain is pleased with her preparation – believing she is ready for her first ever attempt at taking on the Lincolnshire course.

“I’ve been really happy with preparations, we had a run at Le Pin au Haras two weeks ago and I was pleased with all three phases there.

“Once I can get rid of the tension he will do really well - he was great, really honest and enjoyed it.

“It was a little bit hard lifting the handbrake off in the first couple of minutes and then he seemed to settle into it well.

“So we had one more gallop on Thursday which was our last gallop and then we have a jump on the Monday.”

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