McCarthy delivers jaw-dropping cross-country racing at Burghley

Padraig McCarthy delivered on his promise of a strong cross-country with a jaw-dropping ride at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

McCarthy, 45, is competing in his first-ever Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, and after a dressage score of 38.6 left him bottom of the standings, he responded with a superb cross-country time of 11 .54.34 seconds off the optimal time, which only encountered one runner out of the 52 on the start list.

That earned him 13.6 penalty points which lifted the Devon-based equestrian to 20th place ahead of Sunday’s show jumping final, made even more impressive by the fact that the three previous riders have not reached the finish line for various reasons on a difficult Burghley. Classes.

And McCarthy was thrilled to cross the finish line in such good time.

He said: “It was pretty good, it gave me a really comfortable ride and went with the plan and the horse is a cross-country machine.

“He’s not a thoroughbred but he’s a stayer, he didn’t quite take the time but he fought and fought and stayed jumping throughout.

“It’s very intense from the start, surprisingly my guy took a deep breath after just three minutes.

“It’s the intensity of the jumping efforts, then the turns and the crowds, then the terrain and the fact that every jump is a big jump – it all really takes a horse off.”

On his very first attempt at the iconic Lincolnshire ground, McCarthy admits he had some nerves but was delighted with the way he got around it and praised new course designer Derek di Grazia on his first course Burghley after taking over as captain. Mark Phillips.

“I had never been here before so I was a little worried about the Leafpit and other big jumps, but with this horse you don’t have to worry about anything,” said- he declared.

“He was amazing, it’s my pleasure, when I bought the horse I said he was a horse for Burghley, so bringing him here is really nice and I’m very proud of him.

“It’s Burghley, so it’s never going to roll the way you walk it, and it’s cross-country, you have to react.

“It’s very intense and the horse has felt it, it’s big and it’s sinuous.

“The course is fantastic, coming here on the back of Mark Phillips must be quite intimidating, but he put his mark on it.”

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (September 1-4, 2022) returns after a two-year hiatus, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A major international sporting and social event for more than 50 years, it attracts 80 of the best riders in the world and more than 170,000 visitors. For more information visit

Toya J. Bell