LEAMINGTON Spa’s Emma Thomas admits the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials were ‘beyond her wildest dreams’ after delivering a dazzling debut display on the fabled Lincolnshire turf.
Thomas, 24, is in just her second year of full-time eventing and made sure to announce herself as a serious competitor on the five-star Burghley stage.
She rode stallion Icarus to a top-20 finish with an overall score of 60.1 with a stunning showjumping clear run on Sunday.
Thomas said: “It’s been unbelievable, beyond my wildest dreams.
“He’s such a jumper but to come out and jump like a fresh horse after going round the home of Burghley was something else, I just didn’t want to let him down.
“I’m normally quite relaxed about showjumping but I was probably more nervous for it here than I was for the cross-country because I never expected to be in the top-20.”
The Royal Veterinary College graduate picked up 21.6 penalty points in Saturday’s cross-country showdown.
However, paired with a faultless showjumping run, Thomas propelled herself up the leaderboard to a prize-winning finish of 18th.
And throughout the week, Thomas admitted stallion Icarus settled her nerves with his calm nature in front of the Burghley masses.
Thomas added: “I’m elated, I was so nervous about letting him down. I can’t believe he’s jumped like that.
“I’ve really been trying to focus on doing my job and not the result.
“He didn’t care so much about the crowd which I was worried about and he just let me ride.
“It’s the pinnacle of the sport, I never thought I would be here. So to actually be here is incredible.”
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