Event rider Lauren Shannon is confident rising equine star Quality Purdey will step up to the big time at Burghley next week.
The 29-year-old rider has an excellent record among elite company at the prestigious four-star international horse trials.
She won the top under 25s prize on debut in 2010 when finishing 12th with Zero Flight and retained the prize the following year when the combination broke into the top 10 with a brilliant ninth-place finish.
After five years away following Zero Flight’s retirement, Shannon has scaled down her ambitions slightly with her new number one mount.
Next weekend will all be about the four-star first-timer learning the ropes.
But there is the feeling a few surprises could be sprung when the competition gets under way next Thursday (September 1).
“She is a real all-rounder and doesn’t have a weak phase,” she said.
“We will go in looking to be competitive, but she is a first-timer here so we will need to look after her as well.
“This level is bigger than anything we compete at on a national level.
“The fences are higher and wider, the course is longer and there are more obstacles.
“For a horse going round for the first time, I’d like to get a double clear and a good dressage test,
“If we have to go slower this time to do that we will.”
At 10-years-old, Purdey is a comparatively young horse for the demands and rigours of a top international test.
But after four years of working together, the Wymeswold rider believes the German-bred mare will not be phased by eventing’s biggest stage of all.
“I have never found her to be afraid of anything so I would be very surprised if Burghley found something to do that,” she added.
“It is just about managing her excitement levels. She has a lot of heart and attitude.
“She is quite feisty and fresh generally, and moreso now because she has never been this fit before, but there isn’t another horse I would rather be on.
“She is an outstanding mare. I think she is a championship team horse and is capable of getting on a British team after she has proved herself at four star.”
While the nerves and excitement have been building in equal measure at Mushill Farm stables, Shannon is determined not to let pressure overcome the thrill to be back.
“It’s my big local event so I love it and I’m excited to get there,” she said.
“We only have two four-star events in Britain, and Badminton is at the start of the season when everyone is going for teams and is a bit on edge. “Burghley is at the end of the season and everyone wants to come and enjoy themselves.
“It is hard work getting horses to this level so it’s important to have fun when you get there.”