Aug 22, 2019

Burghley Horse Trials Announces New Cross-Country Course Designer for 2021

By Burghley Horse Trials - Edited Press Release
Captain Mark Phillips with past Burghley winner Oliver Townend. Burghley Horse Trials Photo.

Having started his tenure as cross-country course designer some 30 years ago, Captain Mark Phillips has built an enduring partnership with Land Rover Burghley. His expertise and creativity continue to deliver epic competitions year after year; thrilling the crowds and challenging the World’s best riders to their limits. Phillips is recognized as a true equestrian; a former Olympian and winner at 4* (now 5*) level, he is also a much respected and sought after coach and instructor.

Captain Mark Phillips comments: “Whilst I am still enjoying every moment of work with Burghley’s fabulous team, I’m not getting any younger and want to retire while I still feel at the cutting edge and on top of my game.”

Phillips remembers his early years at Burghley and Bill Henson (then Event Director) telling him to “make Burghley, Burghley” something which has continued ever since. He adds: “I am grateful to the event directors Bill and latterly Elizabeth Inman for all their support, which has helped me, to help them, make Burghley the event it is today.”

Elizabeth Inman, Event Director at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials says: “Mark knows how we wonder every year at his ability to keep ‘pulling it out of the bag’ and next year (2020) will be particularly poignant as his swan song. Undoubtedly our cross-country track – acknowledged as probably the most technically challenging test of all the 5* events, both from a competitor’s and designer’s perspective, has benefited hugely from the superlative all-round experience and skill that Mark Phillips has brought to the event.

“So yes, difficult shoes to fill, but softened by the good news that we are appointing Derek di Grazia into the role of course designer in 2021.”

Derek di Grazia. RedBayStock.com Photo.

Derek di Grazia is recognized for safe, sensible, yet tough courses and has been one of the top cross-country course designers in the USA for over 15 years. He is the appointed course designer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Di Grazia continues to compete at 4* level, is also a recognized coach and trainer and is known for his quiet, modest demeanor, demonstrating many of the very qualities that have worked so well during Mark’s tenure.

Derek di Grazia says: “It is a great honor to be appointed course designer for this very special competition and I’m truly excited to have a chance to design the cross-country phase within Burghley Park’s very unique landscape. It is a fantastic project to have in my sights following on from the 2020 Olympic Games.”

Elizabeth Inman concludes: “We look forward with enthusiasm and confidence to this next chapter in the history of the Event and to Derek continuing to “make Burghley, Burghley”.

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You’ve likely spent some time scouring the USEA Calendar to line up your 2022 competition schedule. Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to plan some cross-country schooling outings to make sure you and your horse are as ready as possible. If you own or manage a facility that welcomes guests for haul-in schooling, you’ve likely noticed horses and their humans showing up in droves to get their practice in. A successful off-site schooling day has many, many moving parts. From paperwork and payment to safety, these best practices for hosts and guests will help everything go as smoothly as possible.

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