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Top tips for enjoying cross-country day at Burghley

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The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is one of the most popular equestrian fixtures in the country, for good reason – it’s eventing at its very best. If you’re planning a trip on cross-country day, we’ve got all you need to know

Considered by many to have the toughest cross-country course in the world, why would you even consider being anywhere other than Burghley come Saturday 1 September? This year sees the debut of a number of new fences, plus the first flyover to be seen on a UK eventing track, so the day is sure to be packed full of thrills and spills. So, whether you’re a seasoned spectator or visiting for the first time, here are H&R’s top tips for making the most of your trip…

  • Cross-country day attracts huge crowds, which means lots of people and cars flooding into the park. To avoid the worst of the traffic jams, plan to arrive early and leave plenty of extra time. You can reward yourself for your organisational skills by grabbing a bacon butty on arrival.
  • Check out the Celebrity Talk Area, located near the cross-country start and finish, for the chance to get up close and personal with some of your favourite equestrian personalities. Alice Fox-Pitt is this year’s host, ably assisted by top eventer Lucy Jackson, and they’ll be catching up with riders as they finish the course, plus some other familiar faces from the world of horse sport. You may even get the chance to ask your burning questions, so thinking caps on. A full programme will be listed at burghley-horse.co.uk and on social media.
  • Set in a bowl at the bottom of the shopping village, Discovery Valley is the perfect place for a lunchtime pit-stop on cross-country day. You can either stock up on delicacies from the wide variety of food stalls or pack a picnic, then sit back and enjoy the action. Competitors cross through this part of the course twice in the early stages (fences 5abc and 9abcd), so there’ll be plenty to keep you entertained.
  • Popular fences such as the Trout Hatchery (11abc and 12ab) get very crowded as the day goes on, so head to one of these first early on to grab yourself a spot near the front.
  • If you’re planning on walking the course, the key is to travel light. Here are a few essentials to make sure you’ve got in your pocket…
    • A bin bag to sit on if the grass is damp
    • Hand sanitiser and a packet of tissues for clean-ups and toilet stops
    • Cereal bars and a bottle of water in case you get the munchies
    • A pack-away rain mac for when the heavens inevitably open
    • A course map and running order so you can plan which fences you want to see your favourite riders tackle
    • A Radio Burghley earpiece so you don’t miss any of what’s happening on course
  • If you’re planning a shopping spree – and with so many amazing trade stands to choose from, how could you not? – make use of the Shop & Drop facilities located near the main arena. Alternatively, plan your shopping for before the action starts so you’ve got time to drop it off at the car before you head out on course – the shops open at 9am, while the cross-country doesn’t get underway until 11am.
  • If the cross-country excitement just gets a little too much, there are plenty of other entertainments on offer. Choose from the Land Rover driving experience in the lake, the Musto cross-country simulator near the World of the Horse pavillion, the World War 1: Equestrian Heroes Remembered exhibition near the South Stand, and the the Autarky dog agility and the Box Hedge Maze in Discovery Valley.
  • Try walking the course backwards – not only will you be moving in the opposite direction to most of the crowds, but the horses will be galloping and jumping towards you. This means you’re unlikely to get caught out and overtaken by your favourite horse and rider combination.


Visit the Horse&Rider stand in the World of the Horse pavilion near the Lion Bridge – you can pick up the latest issue, sign up for a subscription or check out our fabulous selection of books, clothing and gifts. We’ll also be bringing you regular reports of all the action on our social media feeds and horseandrideruk.com.

Image: Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

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