I'd always wanted to go to Burghley; partly because it is sponsored by Land Rover, and partly because watching it on TV never really tells you how the course fits together. Just how do The Dairy Mound, Capability's Cutting and the Leaf Pit etc all sit? so when the chance came to win a pair of tickets as part of the Eventing Cinema competition I jumped at the opportunity to make them mine.
Getting to Burghley in time for the first horse on the course meant setting off at about 07:00. I'd allowed my 3 hours because I wanted to be in position in Discovery Valley in time to get myself a clear view of the action. The riders pass through the Valley twice so it seemed a good place to start.
|Ready at Discovery Valley|
Having never visited Burghley before I'd carried out some research in the run up to understand where I was going to stand, how the light would fall and where I was likely to get the best shots. Of course when I picked Discovery Valley on the Satellite View it stood in glorious isolation; I didn't realise until I got there that it sits at the end of the Trade Stands. Luckily although it was already buzzing by the time I arrived I still managed to find a space next to the course. And as the picture shows the sun wasn't going to be an immediate problem because the day started foggy.
First on the course were Sarah Bullimore and Valentino V and I videoed them both ways through Discovery Valley and then raced across to catch her at Fence 29 the Lincolnshire Goose. From there it was back to the start, through some quite massive crowds, to work my way round the course. Videoing with the tripod was not too difficult, and I got some pleasing results all the way around the course.
One area that was difficult to film at was at the water complex or trout hatchery as it is known at Burghley. This was a case of gradually working my way forward, not getting upset when someone held their iPhone in front of the camera, and working out the best place to stand so that the TV camera and boom did not obscure my view.
All the time I was having to keep one eye on the running order and trying to calculate the number of horses I could spare per fence. Obviously the further round the course then the more likely that a horse isn't going to quite get that far. Burghley is a big course as well, there are some long distances to walk between fences. This was especially true of fences 21 and 22, the Hunting Lodge and the Cottesmore Leap, but this was a good example of how being there showed how the fences flowed into Winners Avenue, something you don't quite see on TV.
|The course was in superb condition|
I probably didn't do justice to fences 28 to 32, I did manage to record William Fox-Pitt jumping the boats under the Lion Bridge, although this was a bit of a game as the poor stewards had the job of preventing us from standing on the causeway which was there for emergency vehicles but which gave an excellent view of the jumps. This was a time of very long gaps between horses and so this caused big crowds to build up at all the prestige fences.
|Fancy mowing all that?|
As the competition drew to a close I set myself up alongside Fence 31, The Flower Frame, so that I was sure of catching Andrew Nicholson and Avebury. I watched them out over Fence 2 and then about 10 minutes saw Andrew riding a finish on Avebury to get somewhere near the time. And then that was it, the crowd were dispersing and we were heading home.
I don't know what the history books will say but somehow I don't think it will go down as a great Burghley. Certainly it was a great achievement for Andrew and Avebury to win for a third time, the jumps are massive and track is long, but ultimately it felt a little short on competitors.
After recording a bit of video around the finish I headed back to the car and the long journey back to Gloucestershire. As well as the video of the course and my first horse on the course video I also created a little video collage based around the music of Escala which I'm particularly proud of and I hope you'll enjoy.
This video doesn't always play on mobile devices due to copyright reasons.