Emma Thomas hailed young stallion Icarus after a dream debut cross-country run at the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials.
Thomas, 24, got round designer Derek di Grazia’s 29 fences in exactly 12 minutes as the pair grabbed the attention of a raucous Burghley crowd.
The Leamington Spa debutant praised her 10-year-old Dutch-bred ‘wild child’ for delivering a clear run on the famed Lincolnshire stage at such a young age.
“It was amazing,” she said. “I’ve got no arms left, they’re just jelly but it was absolutely incredible – it was everything I wished it could be.
“That was hard work for me but he just made it feel so simple, he’s so talented. He’s only 10 which is mental but I brought him here because he likes big jumps and loves galloping.
“If he sees it, he can jump it. Luckily, he saw everything. He’s just got so much scope and just gallops forever.”
Thomas and Icarus did not make it inside the top 15 on the highly-anticipated cross-country Saturday following Friday’s dressage score of 38.5.
But the rider was thrilled with how her horse calmed her nerves as soon as they rode onto the track.
She will be hoping for more of the same in Sunday’s show jumping showdown where a winner will be crowned on the grounds of Burghley House.
“I was feeling okay,” she added. “For the whole lead up I was telling myself it wasn’t a 5* but once it started and I didn’t have anything else to do.
“I was sat in the lorry doing crosswords trying to get my mind off it. I’m so proud of him and I’m proud of myself as well.
“We’ve been together five years and it feels like every single moment of that has been leading to this. I’ve dreamed of it forever.”
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