Whitley Bay equestrian Harry Mutch believes his horse HD Bronze couldn’t be in better shape ahead of their debut at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials this weekend, writes James Reid.
Mutch, 22, will make his bow at the storied event set amidst the grounds of 16th-century Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire alongside his long-term steed.
And Mutch believes the 16-year-old gelding is in the form of his life ahead of their third 5*, the highest level of competition available in eventing.
“I’m really excited,” said Mutch. “The horse is in really good form at the minute, he feels really good, he feels really fit so to go to Burghley for the first time, he couldn’t be feeling any better.
“He's come out amazing this season. We’ve had a really good year.
“Every time he’s come out he’s been amazing. We’ve really struggled in the dressage for a long time but the last four runs he’s been so consistent.
“To have the confidence now that we can start the first phase a bit more competitive, that really does help.
“With Covid, it was a little bit rocky for him, the disruption altered the way he ran but now he’s got a full season to get ready for Burghley, he does feel a lot better for it.”
Mutch will tackle the world-renowned course at Burghley, famed for its punishing cross-country course, for the first time this weekend.
But the 22-year-old can’t wait to get to grips with one of eventing’s most famous dates in the calendar.
“With Burghley, you’ve had three quarters of the season, you have a fair idea of how your horse is running,” added Mutch.
“You turn up to Burghley; you’ve got the house, the terrain, it’s a challenge from start to finish.
“It’s just a really amazing place to go to, so to have the opportunity to ride there – as a spectator it feels special so as a rider it’s going to feel amazing.
“Burghley was the first 5* I went and watched so it’s always been quite special to want to get there, so to have the chance to ride there now is special.
“It’s really exciting to finally have the chance to ride around the track.”
To compete at 5* events is the aim for so many eventers worldwide, with the highest level of competition as well as the biggest crowds in attendance.
And while Mutch admits competing at such a storied event is a bit daunting, he is pleased to have previous 5* experience to fall back on.
“It’s my third 5*, so it’s nice to build on from the last two,” said Mutch.
“He feels on another level from then so it’s really exciting and it’d be nice to see how he finds another 5* with another year under our belts.
“It’s nice to have some experience at that level as Burghley is one of the biggest in the world, so for it not to be our first 5*, it gives you a little bit more confidence.
“It all feels good at the minute but once you get there the feeling changes when you see it all and get in that atmosphere but so far, so good!”
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