He may be on top of the world but eventer Tim Price insists he must prove himself all over again as he attempts to defend his Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials title.
New Zealander Price, who is based near Marlborough, claimed a famous victory at last year with Ringwood Sky Boy at the international five-star event in Burghley Park, Lincolnshire.
The winning combination are reunited once again this year as they look to retain their crown, with Ringwood Sky Boy one of Price’s three entries in 2019 along with Bango and Xavier Faer.
But having also climbed to No.1 in the FEI World Rider rankings since his triumph 12 months ago, Price knows the pressure is on him to demonstrate why he belongs at the summit.
“It’s been a fun year having the title of Burghley champion in my back pocket but it feel very real now that we’re back here trying to prove it all again,” said the 40-year-old.
“What a magic experience it was last year. Ringwood Sky Boy has been here a few times and had some good results, so to get it in the bag with him was really special.
“I want to win the title back but it’s not really my mental focus or setup at the moment. There are just so many jobs at a big event like this, just getting here, doing the trot up.
“Now we have the dressage and the cross-country coming up, which is such a big task, so this is what it’s like inside your own head when you’ve got it all ahead of you to prove.
“I feel like I’ve got a good chance on a few of these horses actually, so I just have to prove it. It’s a fun feeling being world No.1 as I’ve never been an out and out winner.
“I’m not one that goes and hunts down every single prize there is on the circuit, so it feels like it’s a real show of consistency and that’s something I’ve done with a lot of different horses.
“It’s something I’m very proud of and it does bring an element of confidence. It’s a reflection that things are going well, so hopefully I turn up on Sunday with a healthy horse that’s good to jump.”
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is one of only six five-star events in the eventing calendar - and one third of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing - attracting more than 160,000 visitors each year.
The prestigious three-day eventing competition is a comprehensive test of the all-round ability of the horse and rider, comprising of dressage, cross-country and showjumping.
And Price will not be the only Wiltshire rider bidding for glory this week, with Chippenham-based Burghley veteran Georgie Spence also looking to impress on her horse, Wii Limbo.
“It feels amazing to be back at Burghley, it’s one of the best events of the year and for him it’s his fifth attempt here so it’s great to be back with a special contender,” she said.
“We’re hoping for a top ten this year if we can put everything in place. He’s a very capable horse in all three disciplines and in previous years I’ve pulled a bit much in the cross-country.
“I need to be a bit braver but it’s good to be back and have a horse that has competed five times is very special. The cross-country has to be my favourite part though.
“This is my tenth time at Burghley over the last 12 years, I’ve been very lucky to only miss a couple of times, but the cross-country means everything here and it’s a very welcoming event.”
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 burghley-horse.co.uk