Phil Brown admits he was feeling the pressure on his return to the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials after having no expectations on last year’s debut.
The Scarborough rider fulfilled his childhood dream in 2022 and, while formerly based in Stamford, could see Burghley House from his yard.
With his horse from last year, Harry Robinson, he posted a score of 41.2 in Thursday’s dressage and admitted he could have been less tentative with the stallion.
“I definitely feel more pressure from myself because you know you can do it because you want to go and better than what you’ve done,” he said.
“Last time there were no expectations, everything was a bonus.
“Equally, I said to myself it’s a second chance and to just enjoy it and take each day as it comes.
“He was relaxed, calm, I was probably a little tentative at the beginning.
“He can be a bit hot-headed and reactive to that so I probably didn’t go for it as much as I could have done in the first half, but I’m really pleased with the horse.”
Brown finished 27th last year with Harry Robinson after posting a personal best score in the dressage and clearing the cross-country.
All the memories and emotions from Burghley came flooding back as soon as he arrived at the gates of the 5* event.
But Brown and Robinson have matured in 12 months and 36-year-old admitted the feeling upon his return is rather dissimilar.
“It feels very different coming back. Last year there was a level of naivety,” he added. “I was quite overwhelmed on an emotional level and still am quite emotional.
“It’s big, bold and scary, much like last year. I think there are a few more technical things this time into the latter stages whereas last year it was a case of keeping everything sensible on the way back.
“It’s really special, we grow up dreaming of Badminton and Burghley, driving through the gates is the best bit.
Defender Burghley Horse Trials (31st August - 3 September 2023) has been a major international sporting and social event for over 50 years. It attracts the world’s top equestrians and over 170,000 visitors. For more information visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk