Tim has a plan on cross country day, particularly when he is riding just one horse, where he selects a couple of good riders to watch before he gets into his routine and makes plan with Kerryn as to the timings of his riding. A hack early doors is usually on the cards and then the precise countdown working backwards from his start time.

There had been plenty to watch before Tim set out in the early afternoon and some new dreams had been realised and some had faded away before the finish line. It was the Leaf Pit drop down to the big brush oxer with the shoulder brush after that had been causing the most amount of faults but it was as if Tim and Vitali had done it before as they flew through the line on a foot perfect striding. The round was one of the best jumping rounds that Tim has had at Burghley as apart from a moment when Vitali banked the Irish bank on winners avenue and Tim had to sit tight as he stumbled on landing the jumping was superb. It wasn’t the easiest of rides in terms stamina as it took Vitali a while to really start to take Tim and it probably wasn’t until he started to run downhill that he started to realise he was heading for home and picked up a bit more. He’s a brave horse though as his last big run was at Badminton with the energy sapping muddy footing, then he had a swan around Farley and Upton OI’s to get back into the swing of things then his big pre-Burghley run at Gatcombe in the British Open was abandoned in untenable conditions, Hartpury 4star wouldn’t accept any more entries so it was a play around an Aston Le Walls 2 phase training day that had to suffice. Thats a pretty low key prep for what Tim and Vitali had to face today!

It was a tough track and it was so cool to see Vitali gallop through the finish and pull up looking good. There were, as always, a few who didn’t look so great but at the end of a long cross country day all the horses came back to their stables which is without doubt the outcome that everybody wants.

Just 2 riders made time, David Dole and Wills Oakden with Sam Watson just 1 second over. Tim and Vitali added 8 time to their stunning dressage score which leaves him in the lead ahead of Ollie Townend but his margin for error is gone with no rails in hand. Jonelle was commenting on Burghley TV for the first part of the morning and her knowledgeable insights and straight talking were really well received!

Jonelle always says that the showjumping arena at Burghley is where dreams come true so let’s hope Burghley works its magic again and Tim and Vitali have a super special Sunday.

NZL-Tim Price rides Vitali during the Cross Country. Interim-1st. 2023 GBR-Defender Burghley Horse Trials - CCI5*-L. Stamford, England. Friday 1 September 2023. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography