By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
Olympic gold medallist Tom McEwen insists Paris 2024 prospect Luna Mist is ‘ready to let rip’ at the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials.
A fall forced Gatcombe-based McEwen out of the running at the European Eventing Championships last month, but he bounced back early on at the fabled 5* event in Lincolnshire, with a competitive score of 30.5 in Thursday’s dressage.
Paris looms large on the eventing calendar and with potential combinations on show throughout this week at Burghley, McEwen was delighted with his dominant start.
“She performed to the best of her abilities on her first time at 5* so I’m delighted, I couldn’t have asked for more,” said McEwen who temporarily held the overall lead on Thursday morning.
“For me, she’s less experienced than Toledo de Kerser (McEwen’s other entry) but she’s a good few years younger, so she’s perfectly prepped and ready to let rip.”
The closest Tokyo gold medallist McEwen has come to winning at Burghley was in 2017 when Toledo De Kerser, who gets his latest tilt at glory underway on Friday, finished fourth.
Despite his success all over the world, the Swindon-born star admits Burghley will always hold a special place in his heart.
“I loved my experience of Kentucky as it’s an amazing event but me for this is premier, number one,” said McEwen.
“They couldn’t do more for you at the stables, for the horses and for owners and riders.
“The course is stunning, the main arena is a privilege to ride in so we’re all really lucky and this is why everyone does those long hours in the winter getting wet.”
Many have billed Saturday’s cross-country as the defining event and toughest test of the week, but McEwen is taking a different view.
“It’s completely beautiful, a proper 5* track and this isn’t meant to be taken the wrong way but I think it’s possibly kinder than last year in the fact that it’s less square ox after square ox,” he added. “There’s a lot of kinder fairing fences but it’s a true test.”
Defender Burghley Horse Trials (31st August - 3 September 2023) has been a major international sporting and social event for over 50 years. It attracts the world’s top equestrians and over 170,000 visitors. For more information visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk