It will be a return to familiar territory when Simon Grieve competes at this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse trials, but the Oakham based rider is preparing for a brand-new challenge.
Grieve, 37, will complete in the elite three-day event for the seventh time when it gets underway on September 5 – but this time, with a horse making its 5* debut.
He has completed the event before with horses Cornacrew, Drumbilla Metro and Douglas, but the Leicestershire-based international event rider will be taking 10-year-old The Rutman for his debut at Burghley Park as he attempts to take the horse up to the top echelon of eventing.
“This year’s Burghley House Trials is a building block for this horse,” said Grieve.
“It’s my seventh start, but the first time I am competing at Burghley with Binnie (The Rutman).
“He’s an inexperienced horse, he’s not very old and he hasn’t competed atthat level before.
“I’d really like him to have an enjoyable cross-country run. He had a great run around Bramham in the 4*, so he is capable.
“He’s a great mover, but the dressage is a work in progress. He’s not quite there yet to be troubling the leaders.
"I'd love for him to have a clear round, but if I know he’s had an enjoyable experience, I will be happy."
Grieve will be among 76 riders taking to the international five-star event in Burghley Park, Lincolnshire, from September 5-8 as eventers compete in dressage, cross country and show jumping disciplines, looking to follow in the footsteps of six-time champion and three-time Olympic medallist William Fox-Pitt.
The newly classified five-star event is one of only two of its kind in the UK, and routinely attracts the world’s brightest and best to its famously undulating terrain.
A veteran of the event, Grieve believes there is no better fixture on the eventing calendar.
“Burghley is the reason I started eventing,” added Grieve.
“I went to watch when I was a kid in the 80s and I was so inspired by what I saw. It’s really special to me because it’s what I’ve always aimed to do.
“To do it once was amazing, so having my ninth start is so special. It doesn’t matter how many times you do it, it feels just as wonderful to be involved every year.
“The atmosphere is always brilliant – it’s a wonderful place to go to. The cross-country course especially is so beautifully designed and really encourages bold riding. It’s a real spectacle.
“I’ve come a long way since I first competed, not only about the courses and riding but also about myself – not just from an equestrian perspective, but also in the way I deal with other things like attention and nerves.
“I’ve definitely matured – it’s given me a few grey hairs along the way!”
The multi-award-winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials from September 5-8 has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for over 50 years. For more information visit burghley-horse.co.uk