Richard Jones has already triumphed in the face of adversity but won’t stop before his dream of glory at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is realised.
Oakham-born Jones went to school in Stamford and has history at the event having been a member of the Burghley Pony Club and for several years a runner and score collector at the Trials.
A serious accident threatened to jeopardise his ambitions when, in 2017, Jones lost a finger in falling from the living area of his horsebox.
The 37-year-old recovered to turn in an exceptional seventh-placed finish at his home event last year, an achievement he admits he feared impossible.
“They say whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger - that's right,” said Jones.
“From a practical point of view, I've never liked the horse pulling me and losing a finger hasn’t affected my grip on the horse.
“Of course there was a time I doubted myself. In the immediate aftermath, you think your career is over.
“Then very quickly the consultants say you will get over this, you will have a grip and you begin to believe there can be a way back.
“I’m an out-and-out competitor. I’m going to Burghley to do a jo and I want to be as competitive as I possibly can be.”
Jones will once again enter 17-year-old gelding Alfies Clover – his favoured major event horse, who finished seventh last year at Burghley and competed at Burgham and Bramham Internationals.
Burghley is the world’s greatest five-star equestrian event acknowledged globally by leading riders as their ultimate competitive goal.
The Lincolnshire local was delighted with the horse’s performance last year but is far from resting on his laurels and is setting his sights on overall victory.
“I'd like to finish six places higher than I did last year. I make no bones about that,” he said.
“I don't enjoy it when I'm there, I'm focused. The enjoyment comes afterwards when you've managed to put in a performance your both capable of.
“Last year I was delighted with how we performed. The horse was as good as I could have hoped he would be and the last 12 months have been trying to build on that.
“I can’t say I was surprised with the performance, because I know how good the horse is, but it's one thing knowing that and it's another thing actually getting it out and getting over the line.
“It was certainly the biggest moment of my career so far.”
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 www.burghley-horse.co.uk