Padraig McCarthy said he would not swap gelding HHS Noble Call for any other horse at the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials after posting a 5* best in Friday’s dressage.
McCarthy, 46, based near Beaworthy in Devon scored 34.9 with the 12-year-old steed, the same score as Irish compatriot Austin O’Connor.
The Irish Olympic rider came 19th with Noble Call last year and cannot wait to see his horse take to the cross-country stage on Saturday.
“I’m thrilled with him,” he said. “It’s his best mark at this level. He’s a horse that gets very nervous and runs in his adrenaline.
“During the warm-up up I was getting off and back on him in five-minute intervals just to bring down his adrenaline and today it really worked – he gave me a great ride and I’m thrilled.
“My horse normally is amazing at cross-country. This is five-star level, I think if there was a six-star level he would also jump it.
“The track is tough, you need everything to go your way. But tomorrow, I wouldn’t swap him for any other horse here.
In 2008, McCarthy was offered a scholarship to undertake a a PhD study of business insolvency laws in Ireland.
The Tipperary-born eventer turned down the opportunity of an academic career to focus on horses and has not looked back since.
“He was amazing at the cross-country last year. It’s known all over the world as the toughest cross-country, the terrain, the crowd, the courses, it’s such an amazing,” he added.
“You’re made to feel so welcome from the organisers and you feel if you’ve done Burghley you’re at the very top of the sport.
“I think it’s more technical than last year. I think it may be more horse friendly.
“I think Derek is really starting to put his mark on it. Normally we saw with these courses challenges all over the course and I think we’ll see that.
“I’m lucky I’m sat on the horse I’m on.”
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