Imogen Murray has her sights set high as she prepares for her third visit to the prestigious Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
A stellar season has raised expectations in the camp as the 25-year-old and horse Ivar Gooden – colloquially known as Charles – gear up for one of the world’s premier events.
But Murray is keen to keep a lid on things with several tipping the pair for great things.
“The season has been going really well,” she said.
“The horse is 12 years old now and is just getting better and better. We recorded his best-ever five-star at Badminton this year; he was on the British team and did really well; he has just had his best placing ever at a four-star level at Le Pin au Haras (sixth), so fingers crossed we can carry it on.
“I’d really love to finish near the top 10. We’ve been in the top 20 both times we’ve been so close to making it in his last two attempts, so I’d just like to crack that.
“Preparations are going well. I’ve just been in France and he feels really good, the best he’s ever felt in the run-up to a big competition.”
Murray will be among 76 riders taking to the international five-star event in Burghley Park, Lincolnshire, from September 5-8 as eventers compete in dressage, cross country and show jumping disciplines, looking to follow in the footsteps of six-time champion and three-time Olympic medallist William Fox-Pitt.
And Murray is aware that pressure breeds nerves, desperate to recapture the youthful ignorance that cocooned her first time at the Stamford event.
“I’ve been to Burghley three times,” she continued.
“I think it’s almost worse this time! The first time I was so naïve and was on a horse that was never going to be capable of being in the top 10, so there was no expectation.
“That was almost my easiest Burghley, because if I got round, then everyone was going to be absolutely amazed; there was no pressure.
“You never really know if you’ve got a Burghley horse until you’ve done one, so I feel like this year is going to be the most nerve-wracking year because we’ve done so well before – there’s almost that pressure, which makes it more scary.”
The multi-award-winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials from 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 burghley-horse.co.uk