By Megan Armitage
Tom Rowland is confident that a season of rekindling relationships can see him return to the top of the paddock at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
The 31-year-old rider from Cirencester has overcome a wrist injury to return to action on 15-year-old Possible Mission after three years of ups and downs.
Rowland has been focused on a steady season of helping the gelding ease back into form having raced only seven times in the past three years but was back in the mix at the Badminton Horse Trials in May, finishing 46th.
He said: "After my wrist injury I was back riding six weeks later but to be honest, it's only really in the last couple of weeks that I've really felt back to normal.
"With Possible Mission, he's an older horse now and he's had a couple of years out through injury. We took him carefully through Covid, waiting for these bigger events to come back.
"I feel like Badminton was a great warm up really so I'm hopeful that we can take it a little bit as it comes.
"He was a little bit rusty there, but equally it's amazing how much he hadn't forgotten.
"I feel like he's now in a good place for Burghley."
Rowland grew up close to Badminton and spent his younger years going to the event with his family, encouraging a love for eventing and 5* competitions.
He said: "I'm very close to Badminton so that's always the one that I've gone to more and competed at.
"My parents weren't particularly horsey but we used to go to Badminton regularly because it was a local event.
"That was what captured me and then I was very lucky to have a good first horse that wasn't necessarily competitive but jumped round some bigger tracks. I've loved it ever since."
With Possible Mission growing slower in his age, Rowland is intent on allowing the horse to enjoy the experience and keep healthy on the course.
And with a strong relationship between rider and horse, Rowland is now also wondering if a much-needed downpour might play to his advantage on the Irish hunter.
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"I'm very conscious that the horse doesn't owe me anything. He's not the fastest horse in the world and this will be his fourth 5* and I have been somewhere around 50-60 seconds over each of them,” said Rowland, speaking ahead of the event that is back for the first time in two years - due to the Covid-19 pandemic - better than ever, with renewed impetus, a top class field and additional activities on offer.
"What I would love is to try one in wetter ground, because I feel like the wet ground slows everyone else down but he goes the same speed.
"I've learnt that he doesn't tire and he keeps going at his own pace but he's quite one paced.
"If I'm honest, I'm a little bit disappointed that a few things haven't gone to plan, like my wrist this season, to give other horses a chance. But I've worked really hard to try and have a string of horses underneath him coming through.
"I would love to take a few more risks and maybe be a bit quicker but my priorities are him leaving well and happy as an older horse having gone well."
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