Zara Tindall believes attack will be the best form of defence in the cross-country at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials this year as she prepares to tackle her father’s course.
The Queen’s granddaughter, who is based in Gloucestershire, is competing at the prestigious international five-star event at Burghley House, near Stamford, for the first time since 2017.
Competing on 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Class Affair, the 38-year-old will be hoping to go one better than her debut in 2003 when she finished second on Toytown.
But the London 2012 Olympian is aware she must first overcome the latest challenge posed by her father, Captain Mark Phillips, who has been the cross-country course designer for 30 years.
“Burghley is one of my favourite events of the whole year,” she said. “I guess I kind of started my four-star career here with Toytown - or certainly my successful results with Toytown.
“I think you always get to Burghley and you always know if you’re at the top of your game and we’ve all been out and had a look at the cross-country course.
“My father again has produced an incredible cross-country and we’ve got to go out and attack it. I’m excited to be back and I’ve got a really nice horse.
“Hopefully we can go out and do the business on Saturday. It’s big, it’s a proper course with the hills and it always makes a huge difference to how much petrol you have in the tank.
“You have to try and reserve that petrol to be able to get to the end and make sure that every jump is as seamless as you can - I am excited to have a horse that loves that phase.”
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is one of only six five-star events in the eventing calendar - and one third of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing - attracting more than 160,000 visitors each year.
The prestigious three-day eventing competition is a comprehensive test of the all-round ability of the horse and rider, comprising of dressage, cross-country and showjumping.
Burghley has become one of the most popular and highly regarded within the equestrian and social calendars, ranking within the UK’s top ten national sporting occasions by attendance.
And while she admitted Class Affair is a newcomer to the pressure of Burghley, Zara is looking forward to seeing how her horse fares against world-class opposition in Stamford.
“He is very inexperienced at this level so I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “It’s such a relaxed friendly event where everyone enjoys it and it’s what the sport is about.
“You can see it all through the weekend. We have the dressage first, which is probably my least favourite, and then it builds up through the week.
“Just driving in through the gates, unloading the horses and knowing that you’re here at Burghley, a five-star event, is a special feeling and I can’t wait to get going.”
The multi-award winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (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