A CROSS-COUNTRY elimination wasn’t enough to deter reigning champion Tim Price from securing another top-10 finish at the 2019 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, writes PETER WHITE.

The Marlborough-based rider, 40, and horse Bango finished fifth in the overall standings after a dramatic show jumping finale concluded this year’s competition at Burghley House, near Stamford.

After entering three horses, New Zealander Price failed to progress from the gruelling, four-mile course in the second phase with either Xavier Faer or 2018 winner Ringwood Sky Boy.

But having got used to feeling the pressure while battling for the title in previous years, he admitted he enjoyed being able to relax during his last performance of the competition this time out.

“I just tried to enjoy the fact it wasn’t me who had to go last and everything that comes with that,” said Price.

“Winning is obviously great, but the pressure can be a bit much and once I knew it wasn’t going to be that way I decided to focus on taking it all in.

“It was good mileage for both me and the horse and I still felt the butterflies as I was ready to go.

“He’s a great horse and I think after a 10th-place finish last year and now this, he could start delivering some really interesting results.”

The world-renowned Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is one of only six five-star events in the eventing season – and one third of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.

It has become one of the most popular and highly-regarded events within the equestrian and social calendars, ranking within the UK’s top ten national sporting occasions by attendance.

Two days of dressage were followed by cross-country on Saturday and the show jumping on Sunday at family-friendly Burghley, which attracts more than 160,000 visitors each year.

This year’s competition was won by Pippa Funnell, with Piggy French and Oliver Townend second and third respectively.

Elsewhere, Alicia Hawker finished 16th on Charles RR during a memorable first Burghley appearance for the Chippenham-based rider.

“It was a really good weekend,” said Hawker, who runs a yard in Hullavington.

"If at the start of the week you’d have told me this would happen in my first Burghley I would have been absolutely thrilled with it.

“I was delighted with how he jumped in there and he was very fresh, so it appears going around 12 minutes up and down Burghley hills doesn’t take that much out of him.

“I may have to have a bit of a rethink on the work we before the show jumping in the future but although we had one fence go down I know he’s a real jumper.”

Lacock’s David Doel and horse Shannondale Quest finished 23rd on their first appearance at Burghley.

Doel said: “He tried really hard for me in the cross-country. That was a long old track for him and he was a bit sore last night and this morning.

“That’s the nature of the beast though. He’s perfectly sound and happy, and a big part of these experiences is learning how to deal with those situations.”

Another Chippenham rider, Georgie Spence, withdrew her horse Wii Limbo before they were due to start Saturday’s cross-country.

THE multi-award winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (September 5-8) has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for over 50 years. For more information, visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk.