Defender Burghley Horse Trials, 2024

Thursday 5 September – Sunday 8 September 2024 will see the return of the Defender Burghley Horse Trials with top class hospitality being available on each of the 4 days. Demand is sure to be high after the success of 2023 and we can’t wait to welcome you back.

The Defender Burghley Horse Trials are set within the exemplary grounds of Burghley House. The VIP Burghley Restaurant and Private Pavilions offer a prime location with the magnificent backdrop of Elizabethan Burghley House.

In 2023 Olympic champion Oliver Townend won his third title, will he take the Burghley title in 2024?

Despite the sport being known as ‘Three Day Eventing’ originally, the Defender Burghley Horse Trials takes places over four days: the first two days are dressage (half of the field compete on each day), followed by cross-country and then the show jumping round on the final day.

Three Day Event

Thursday 5 September – Sunday 8 September, 2024

Each horse and rider combination performs a dressage test in front of a panel of 3 judges. A huge emphasis is placed on dressage nowadays because of the ever-increasing quality of breeding and talent; the idea is to get the best mark possible in this initial stage to guarantee the best placing going into the cross-country phase.

The judges’ scores are converted into penalty points, which are carried forward to the next stage of the competition (riders are aiming to achieve as low a dressage penalty score as possible).

The dressage test movements include a collected, medium, and extended trot as well as collected and extended canter plus an extended and a medium walk. The test also includes counter canter, flying changes, shoulder in, half pass and halt.

Held over the beautiful but challenging terrain of Burghley Park offers over 30 fences and is over 11 minutes long. Captain Mark Phillips has designed the course for the last 30 years and will hand over the reins to Olympic Cross Country Course Designer, Derek Di Grazia in 2021.

Every horse/rider combination will receive penalty points for jumping errors and for exceeding the optimum time; if they are penalised, these points are then added to the penalty points incurred during the dressage test to give a total score.

The third phase of the competition is designed as a test to ensure the horses have not been over taxed from the previous days exertions across country. A reasonably small (by comparison with pure show jumping), but technical show jumping course, is built to test obedience, suppleness, accuracy and jumping ability.

Competitors jump in reverse order, creating a very tense atmosphere as the leading competitors enter the arena intent on at least maintaining their place in the final order. Often, very few penalties separate the good riders and knocking one pole off can drop them several places in the prize list.

Thursday 9.00am: Dressage commences
Friday 9.00am: Dressage commences
Saturday 11.00am: First Horse on Cross Country
Sunday 11.00am: Show Jumping commences
Please note – all timings are approximate and could be subject to change

9.00am: Hospitality facility opens, bacon and sausage rolls served
12.30pm: Pimms reception
1.00pm: Luncheon served with wine
4.30pm: Afternoon tea
6.00pm: Facility closes

Hospitality Options at Burghley

Burghley VIP Restaurant
VIP Restaurant
Burghley Private Pavilions
Private Pavilions

Check Availability