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Burghley Horse Trials: South Luffenham event rider Richard Jones aiming for top-five finish on home turf

Event rider Richard Jones is not ruling out claiming one of the biggest prizes in the eventing world as Burghley Horse Trials return next month.

The blue riband international event has been missing from the equestrian calendars for the last two years because of the pandemic, but is back at Stamford from September 1 to 4.

Richard, from South Luffenham, will line up for one of eventing's toughest tests with Alfies Clover for the fourth time.

Richard Jones, centre, is targetting a top finish at Burghley.
Richard Jones, centre, is targetting a top finish at Burghley.

The pair recorded their best Burghley result in 2018 and the Rutland rider believes the growing maturity and form of his 15-year-old grey gelding suggest they can do even better.

"We looking at top five really," he said.

"We were seventh in 2018 when I had time faults which cost us third or fourth place which was naive on my part.

"He is 15 now, not new to this and knows his way around. He is in great form so it's going to be Alfie's year hopefully.

"Anything is possible. We are not coming for a day out."

Alfie is now saved exclusively for five-star competition and the combination has been in good form.

Following on from a sixth-place finish at Bicton last year, the pair were 10th at Badminton in May.

"He is even more suited for here," said Richard.

"It is the most demanding cross country in the world and we are one of the best cross country combinations."

Richard, 40, will be very much on home turf when he makes his seventh appearance at Burghley.

Having grown up in Rutland, he went to Stamford School, was a member of the Burghley Pony Club, and for several years acted as a runner and score collector at the Trials.

He admits that familiarity initially blinded him to how unique the event was, but now, especially after its covid-enforced absence, he is raring to go.

"It felt pretty normal driving in at first, but as you grow up and realise what it all means, you realise how special it is," he explained.

"The atmosphere is unbelievable come Saturday and I'm really looking forward to it.

"I have the most amazing horse at the top of his career and as an event rider it is the absolute pinnacle. It's everything you prepare and train for."

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