As always, we set off ridiculously early on the Sunday for the 3-hour early morning blast up the M62 and down the A1 to reach Stamford at a reasonable time before the crowds arrived. For this year's jaunt we had the pleasure of driving the SEAT Leon X-Perience which was nice, and when we arrived I couldn’t have chosen a better parking spot, right at the front, bang in centre!
In case you aren’t aware, the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is 3-day eventing competition that includes dressage, cross country and show jumping. Today's Burghley Horse Trials is a far cry from the inaugural event which took place more than 50 years ago with just 19 competitors in front of a mere 12,000 people. These days there’s over 160,000 visitors over the four days, more than 600 carefully selected exhibitors, an average of 80 of the world’s top competitors and a prize fund of £250,000 - how time moves on!
Usually, once we’ve registered in the media office both Muddy Madam and Muddy Madam senior wander off to look at horses, but this time we meandered around the 600+ exhibitors together. It was cooler than normal with grey clouds looming overhead, and I believe that for the first time in quite a number of years it had rained during the past few days, which had made the cross country course trickier that normal.
Wandering around the 600 or so exhibitors it’s actually quite difficult to remember who I spoke to, I remember Sam Brown Leather caught my attention , they supply, well, leather goods, but in particular, expensive ones that are hand made with care. Then there was Devils Edge Shirt Company who make made to measure shirts, they look really smart, and perhaps once I’ve lost my 19-stone belly I might order a couple.
To be honest, the list of exhibitors is endless and will take me forever to go through them all, but amongst all the horsey specific items on offer there's plenty of outdoor stuff to keep me entertained.
The Land Rover stand had the first viewing of the Evoque convertible, it looks smart and will appeal to many, but I can’t help feel that a lot of the traditionalists will want to kill it with fire. I actually quite like it.
On the subject of Land Rover, the Land Rover Experience Terrapod seems to become more elaborate every year wowing the spectators and participants alike. This year they ventured into the, erm, I think it’s a pond and drove around a large metal covered plant pot not only showing off their wading capability but how far they can lean before fall over.
As usual the Land Rover Lawn was next door, this is a little place where customers can get complimentary refreshments from an old converted Airstream caravan, just flash your Land Rover key fob and get free food. Land Rover do like to look after you during occasions like this.
After another wander around the exhibitors and the many Country Living marquees it was soon time for the final event, the main spectacle of the day, show jumping.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, I’m not really into horsey events, but I like to watch people who are at the top of their game, and these guys and gals are. After the 3 gruelling events, cross country, dressage and show jumping, the points are totted up, and this year's winner was Christopher Burton, an Australian who won riding Nobilis 18.
As usual, Muddy Madam, Muddy Madam senior and I sat in the media area watching all the other journalists work up a frenzy interviewing everyone, it’s a serious event and there are TV channels from all over the world.
After around 1/2 hour or so when the crowds had eventually dispersed we too decided to head to the car. By this time the fields that were earlier ram-packed with cars were almost empty, so I moved the Leon X-Perience away from our prominent spot and unpacked the Cobb BBQ, Ghillie Kettle and an assortment of food stuff. Tea, if you’re northern, dinner if you’re southern consisted of burgers, sausage and egg barms washed down with a lovely mug of coffee.
Now pretty much alone in a vast field overlooked by Burghley House, we basked in the evening warmth and reflected on what was another event-full day at Burghley (see what I did there?) before packing everything away and heading off.
As I've written previously, I love this event, not just because they have proper soap and moisturiser in the portable toilets, but it’s full of enthusiasm, ceremony and occasion. We probably won’t make it to next years event, but will hopefully see you there in 2018.