HE MIGHT not have completed this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials but there was no wiping the smile off Harry Dzenis’ face after a personal best on his horse Xam in the dressage phase.
A packed Burghley crowd were treated to a dressage exhibition by three-day world number one Michael Jung, who qualified joint top after the first phase finished.
But 24-year-old Dzenis from Petworth also got in on the act, scoring a new best 51.1 on board Xam to sit 42nd in the table.
That was as good as it got as the duo withdrew before the gruelling cross-country stage, but Dzenis was still delighted with Xam’s performance earlier in the world-famous event.
“He was a really good boy and we got a personal best at four-star level and knocked a good few marks off our score last year, and it’s really pleasing,” Dzenis said.
“He made a bit of a mistake in the medium trot at the beginning which was a bit frustrating because he doesn’t normally do that, otherwise he kept it together. There’s definitely a bit more of an atmosphere in the arena than the previous day. It’s Burghley and there’s always a buzz.
It’s amazing to hear the crowd cheering you on after a decent jump, and it’s such a buzz as a rider.Harry Dzenis
“It’s really exciting to be back at Burghley. It’s the highlight of our autumn campaign, so I’m really thrilled to be here again.
“It’s amazing to hear the crowd cheering you on after a decent jump, and it’s such a buzz as a rider.”
There was still a tinge of disappointment that Xam couldn’t improve on last year’s 26th-place finish at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
“I’d have loved to go clear in cross-country, and he did Badminton in the spring and Burghley last year so I’d have liked to get as close as I could to the optimum time, but it just wasn’t to be,” added Dzenis.
“It’s a fair old sized track and there’s a lot to be jumped out there. There are a lot of questions all the way round and even the let-up fences are big fences.
“They might not be as technically difficult but it’s still a big jumping effort and you’ve still got to be accurate.
“With the course reversing, I think time was always going to be really crucial and with the weather the ground was a little bit soft.
“I wanted to go out there and have a crack at getting as close to the time as I can but I had to get the horse to last 11 minutes.”
NORTHCHAPEL’S Nana Dalton admitted she was ‘over the moon’ after her ride Elite Syncopation completed the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, despite it being his first ever effort at the highest level of three-day eventing.
After two top-ten finishes in two weeks in the spring, Elite Syncopation then recorded a top 20 finish at the three-star Burgham International.
And coming into his first four-star, the 12-year-old delighted his Haslemere-based owner with his stamina and control over the weekend.
“I’m over the moon with him,” said Dalton. “He jumped a clear round so he finished double clear and I couldn’t be happier with him after the show-jumping.
“He took very little out of himself in the cross-country. I didn’t go that quick which is why we had plenty in the tank for the show-jumping today.
“I’d much rather that way round though, because it’s his first four-star and we’ll build on that.”
“The atmosphere is great. When you go in you just focus on the show jumps and your course, so you’re not overly aware of it, but it’s great having a good round of applause when you finish.
“We’ve had an awesome experience of Burghley. It’s been great to be here, and a real privilege. I can’t wait to keep coming back now.”
There could scarcely have been a stronger field for Dalton to take on, with world numbers one and two Germany’s Michael Jung and Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt leading the field out of the dressage phase.
However, both were caught out by Captain Mark Phillips’ cross-country course, although Jung recovered to fire his second ride, La Biosthetique, into first place.
And Dalton, who has produced a number of fine eventing horses, would have had two horses in the competition, but admitted that the level of competition was not to be taken lightly.
“Elite Syncopation hunted as a young horse, but now we’re concentrating on the eventing,” added Dalton. “With a young horse though we’ll still take it out hunting.
“I was planning to run Absolute Opposition here as well, but he had a bit of an illness and I couldn’t bring a horse here with the slightest doubt in my mind.
“Elite Syncopation was a little bit underprepared. His autumn goal was Pau four-star, and I thought we’d just use this as a dressage practice, but the ground is so fabulous and he’s in such good order that he’s been brilliant.”
* The multi-award winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the autumn sporting calendar for more than 50 years. For more information visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk
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