The sun was shining brightly this morning at the jog which was a nice change after 2 solid months of low pressure and rain. Vitali did his token sideways onto the ground jury before bouncing up and back on the strip looking a million dollars. Shout out to supergroom Kerryn Edmans as always and for the expert help and advice from top international vet Christiana Ober. All 34 horses presented sailed through without even one being sent to the hold box.

It’s a funny Saturday morning at Burghley like all big three days. A few jumped in the morning session, horseboxes with non finishers pull out really early, everyone is packing up and the atmosphere is building for those who are left to jump at 2.15pm. It is certainly much easier when the sun shines and it was a glorious afternoon in Leicestershire and a really gritty climax to what is never a given at Burghley 5 star.

Ominously poles fell throughout the morning session and there were few clears in the line up as it went down to the final 5. David Doel was the only one to finish on his dressage score, a feat that eventually moved him up to 2nd, Ollie Townend and Ballaghmor Class jumped one of the best rounds they have jumped in recent years to just tip the last fence for 4 faults and then Vitali cantered into the arena looking magnificent.

He pinged the first 2 fences then fairly decked the third after a lovely ride in. Cushion zone now gone, it was hands over eyes stuff as Vitali then casually hit another 2 before jumping the last fence beautifully and cantered out looking like a dude.

3 down dropped them from 1st to 4th but hell, it wasn’t a bolt from the blue. Vitali is nothing if not consistent and he has had 3 down at Burghley 2022, Badminton and Luhmuhlen. But counterbalance that with he hasn’t been out of the top 10 at Burghley (twice!), Badminton and Luhmuhlen and you have a true 5 star horse for sure. He scored two 10’s and 8 nines on his dressage, he was gutsy and brave cross country yesterday, did well to stand up after he misread the Irish bank, he’s a relative youngster at just 13 with all those 5 stars under his belt already and one day it will be his turn to head the field.

Tim, as always, rode superbly. And for Ballaghmor Class, at 16 and surely in the twilight of his career, to come out and win Burghley for Ollie Townend was very fitting. He is a quirky horse, he’s by Courage, like Ringwood Sky Boy (Ozzie), he has been a true 5 star superstar and to come back and win Burghley again some 7 years after he won on his debut in 2017 is just incredible. He has never finished lower than 5th at Badminton or Burghley and he’s been runner up at Badminton twice. This is a horse that really deserved that special win today and the Price team were delighted for Ollie and his team.

Another 5 star, another top 5 and its onwards to the rather special Cornbury Park this week. And, apparently, we are due a heatwave just as meterological summer ends and autumn begins!

NZL-Tim Price rides Vitali during the Prizegiving. Final-4th. 2023 GBR-Defender Burghley Horse Trials - CCI5*-L. Stamford, England. Sunday 3 September 2023. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography
NZL-Tim Price rides Vitali during the second day of Dressage. 2023 GBR-Defender Burghley Horse Trials - CCI5*-L. Stamford, England. Friday 1 September 2023. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography