Silver stars at Burghley

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OLYMPIC silver medalists Kristina Cook, Mary King and William Fox-Pitt are among the riders competing at Burghley’s three-day horse trials, which began yesterday.

The British trio, who were second at the London Olympics, are among 85 riders from 10 countries on the start list of this year’s event. Olympians from New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Ireland are also among the favourites to take the £55,000 first prize and the Land Rover Perpetual Challenge Trophy.

Fox-Pitt, who won Burghley for a record sixth time last year, will undoubtedly be one of the favourites, and if he wins a magnificent seventh it will set a record in Burghley’s 50th year.

But the 2011 champion and last year’s winning horse Parklane Hawk would need to break another record too – no horse has ever won Burghley in consecutive years and only one horse, Priceless, ridden by Ginnie Elliott (nee Holgate), has ever won twice, in 1983 and ’85.

He is one of eight riders arriving with a choice of two horses, while his GB Team partner Mary King will ride her Kings Temptress who is one of just five mares that are on the start list.

Nineteen-year-old Comanche will be the oldest horse while French rider and former World Champion Jean Teulere (58) will be the oldest rider.

The youngest competitors are Rebecca Crosbie Starling, Peter Hannigan and Emily Parker who are all 22.

Also at stake is this year’s HSBC FEI Classics series, which for the first time will finalised at Burghley.

After four-events Fox-Pitt is the current leader although he will have to fight off a challenge from second placed New Zealander Andrew Nicholson.

The competition began yesterday with dressage, which continues today. The challenge of a spectacular cross-country course designed by Captain Mark Phillips awaits riders tomorrow with the show jumping to complete the trials on Sunday.