By Abi Curran at Defender Burghley Horse Trials
Tim Price admits it’s ‘back to the drawing board’ after a costly show-jumping display denied him a podium finish at the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials.
The world No.1’s horse Vitali turned to jelly in the crucial third phase finale after Price led on the gelding in the dressage and cross-country.
Oliver Townend romped to his third Burghley title on Ballaghmor Class as David Doel and Harry Meade bumped up to second and third.
The Chedington-based rider concedes he’s now left with more questions than answers with Vitali, whose three crucial errors proved the difference between a Burghley title and fourth.
“What else can you do?,” he said. “It's super disappointing and I'm sure the gravity of that will come but it's our Achilles heel.
“I was just desperate for the wind to turn and for us to have our first really good result in the show jumping department.
“It's back to the drawing board, he's a funny little fish and I've just got to figure him out.
“I've never been very good at Rubix cubes but I'll get there in the end I'm sure.
“I've had him so relaxed this time and I feel like my approach has been good to keep him mentally with me.
“The silly thing is he's just got so much ability to hang in the air.”
The New Zealander broke records on Friday with a jaw-dropping score of 18.7 in the first phase, the best dressage score ever seen in the famed Burghley arena.
After a convincing cross-country run, Price remained top but a falter at Sunday’s final hurdle cost him the coveted Burghley crown.
“It takes a lot to win these,” he added. “Fundamentally you've got to do three phases very well so when you can't do that it gets in the distance a little bit.
“He's definitely worth the energy because he's so good in the other phases so we'll keep chipping away and see if he can find a formula.
“Within himself and when it goes outside himself, he throws his concentration to one side and makes some silly mistakes.
“I’m sure he doesn't enjoy making them and it's certainly not useful for any of us.”
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