Helen Wilson has her sights set on bigger and better things after a storming clear round at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials’ infamous cross-country course writes James Reid.
The Surrey star went round in 12:57 on My Ernie to leave her 24th in the standings ahead of Sunday’s show jumping.
Wilson does not have the wealth of many other equestrians, and admitted she feels very fortunate to have met her steed.
“He’s a very cheap horse, he’s not very good in the lorry, we’ve had a few quirks there,” said Wilson.
“I’m just eternally grateful that he came to me and I hope he feels the same.
“I’ve had him four years now, he’s very one on one, he has his little quirks, but we’re good friends now and it’s lovely.
“I think it’s nice to have a horse like him, I love the jumping.
“I’m not desperate to have hundreds of horses at this level, but I do want to do more with him, and improve on his results because he’s really got a special place in my heart.
“It would be great to hopefully come back next year and do Badminton and Burghley again and hopefully do a bit better at both of them.”
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is back bigger and better than ever in 2022 after two years away due to Covid-19, and its cross-country course lived up to its billing as one of the world’s toughest.
American Tokyo Olympic course designer Derek di Grazia’s maiden effort, after succeeding Captain Mark Phillps, proved tricky for many riders with 21 failing to complete.
And Wilson admitted she had to take some longer routes in order to get round in one piece.
“It was a tough track out there, it took a lot of riding,” she added.
“I took a lot of route early on and sort of changed my mind, he’s quite greedy to a level, he probably would have been find but I decided to just go long.
“Then he was brilliant, it was a superb run the rest of the way, and then he was brilliant, so he was good, he was brilliant actually, it’s really exciting to be here.
“It’s amazing, I love it, and I own him as well, which is brilliant.
“I’ve worked extra hard this year to try and get fit and ready for cross country because I don’t do much of it. I do a lot of straight jumping but not much of this.”
Wilson and My Ernie now face a final day of competition on Sunday, and the Dorking-based rider is hopeful that it will play to their strengths.
“It’s the last day and he’s normally very good,” said Wilson. “He’s done a lot of jumping but then equally he’s very distracted by crowds and what’s going on around him.
“Tomorrow is another day, we’re just going to look after him tonight and he’s done a lot for me, he’s done enough for a lifetime, and every extra bit is just a bonus.”
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