By Ben Hart
David Doel was delighted with Galileo Nieuwmoed’s Defender Burghley Horse Trials bow a year on from finishing as best first-timer at Badminton.
Lacock’s Doel, 30, is making his second appearance at the prestigious 5* event held in Lincolnshire four years after his first, and stallion Galileo Nieuwmoed looks a strong contender having finished sixth at Badminton 12 months ago.
The 12-year-old certainly backed up those strong expectations with an impressive score of 33.7 in Thursday’s dressage, leaving the pair well set ahead of the hotly anticipated cross-country on Saturday.
“In general, I’m really pleased with him,” said Doel.
“He tried really hard in the ring there, just two little mistakes right at the end of the test which was a shame because I thought for the rest of the way through, he concentrated and listened to me, so I’m pleased with his work.”
Doel may be a relative newcomer to Burghley House, but he insists he already feels right at home.
He finished 23rd in 2019 with Shannondale Quest and after a four-year hiatus he is delighted to be rubbing shoulders with eventing royalty once again.
“It’s such a cool place,” he said. “It’s really unique and special and has an aura about it and quite a relaxed atmosphere.
“There isn’t so much of the pressure there is at Badminton where everybody is chasing after team places and things like that.
“I think everybody has a bit of respect for the fact that the cross-country track is massive, it’s testing and a real challenge so there’s a different thought process for the riders and it has a different feel.”
Doel’s second entrant, Ferro Point, will get her Burghley bid underway on Friday but it’s Saturday’s cross-country which Doel has identified as the toughest test.
“Any drop off in your concentration and you’re definitely going to come unstuck,” he said.
“Derek (di Grazia, course designer) has been very clever. It is question after question, and you really have to be on it with your concentration the whole way through.”
Defender Burghley Horse Trials (31st August - 3 September 2023) has been a major international sporting and social event for over 50 years. It attracts the world’s top equestrians and over 170,000 visitors. For more information visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk