By Abi Curran at the Defender Burghley Horse Trials
Whitley Bay equestrian ace Harry Mutch powered through injury to shine on noble steed Shanbeg Cooley at the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials.
Mutch, 26, returned to the prestigious 5* event with two horses this year after making his debut with HD Bronze in 2022.
The expert equine rider fell foul to Cottesmore Leap in the cross-country 12 months ago but stormed to a completion on his nine-year-old Irish stallion Shanbeg Cooley this time out.
And despite rolling his ankle in Wednesday’s trot-up, Mutch still put in a performance to be proud of in Lincolnshire.
“It’s kept me on my toes, literally,” he said. “This horse Shanbeg Cooley has been absolutely top-class all week,” he said.
“My ankle is getting better every day. I tried a jog for the trot-up this morning and that didn’t really go to plan.
“Fortunately, I managed to get someone else to trot the horse up.
“I wouldn’t say it’s disrupted my week when I’ve been riding, it’s just mad that everything’s difficult when you’re doing all the extras but as long as you can ride, it doesn’t matter.”
Mutch managed an overall score of 88.4 after Sunday’s show jumping finale, downing just once fence on the closing day.
HD Bronze was retired during the cross-country phase after an encouraging dressage performance.
And an unexpected change to the order of his second phase rides made the North Tyneside eventer consider a future change to his strategy with both steeds.
“Shanbeg Cooley looked like he had a little abscess in his mouth and we didn’t really want to put a bit in it and for him to be uncomfortable,” he added.
“We changed and put him first in the cross country and he was fit to jump but he we didn’t want a bit sitting uncomfortably in his mouth.
“That’s horses, they are always keeping you on your toes and to be fair it worked quite well, so we might keep it in mind for the future.”
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