McCarthy successfully navigates the 2023 Burghley Horse Trials cross-country track

Heffernan previously represented the Netherlands but is now based in Cheshire
Heffernan previously represented the Netherlands but is now based in Cheshire

Beaworthy rider Padraig McCarthy successfully stormed around the 2023 Burghley Horse Trials cross-country track with aptly-named steed, HHS Noble Call.

The Irish Olympic rider finished inside the top 20 on Saturday as thousands watched the pair gallop around designer Derek di Grazia’s famed course.

McCarthy impressed in the second phase on his return to Burghley after a 19th-placed finish on debut last year.

The pair ended the day with a score of 49.3 after a small mistake, leaving McCarthy with a total of 14.4 penalty points.

“The horse was class as always,” he said. “He gave me an unbelievable ride.

“Four 4* events have made him feel really easy. He jumped all the difficult things like he always does at this level. He’s real quality to the ride.

“The plan was to be as efficient with him as I could. I’m really annoyed with myself because I cost myself 20 seconds, it really stings now.

“I have him really fit but he’s not a high-speed horse, while I’m super happy with the way he jumped, I’m really disappointed to have that mistake.”

The Tipperary-born eventer turned down the opportunity of an academic career to focus on horses and has not looked back since.

And the Irishman was feeling confident ahead of the third and final phase of equestrian’s pinnacle, where Noble Call is expected to thrive in the jumps.

“The horse is amazing,” he added. “I don’t think there’s a better cross-country horse in the field but I think he will still be in the mix.

“Hopefully he feels fresh and can come out and do a good job.

“The horse is a very good showjumper, sometimes the nerves get to him a little bit on the last day but he has been jumping better so I’m confident for tomorrow.”

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