Today marks the end of a long wait for Emilie Chandler as she returns to one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious equestrian arenas.
The Stathern three-day eventer will guide her long-time partner Cooper’s Law into the dressage arena to begin her Burghley Horse Trials weekend.
It will be the first time in 12 years, and only the second time in her career, that Chandler has competed among the world’s best in the elite four star competition at the famous Lincolnshire venue.
She said: “I’m really excited. There are only five of them (four star events) in the world. They are very unique and the highest competitions we can go for.
“I never thought it would take me 12 years to get back there, but I will grab the chance with both hands and give it my best shot.
“It just shows how tough this sport is – it’s so full of ups and downs.”
The appearance will be all the more satisfying in the context of Chandler’s career to date.
She enjoyed a highly successful junior career, representing Great Britain and competing twice among four star company at Badminton.
But having hit the peak of her sport, Chandler took the difficult decision to sell her top horses in order to set up her own yard.
It has taken her nine years to conquer the mountain once again and bring Cooper’s Law, owned by Sally Williams and Nicola Dickson, up to four star standard.
When the 11-year-old bay gelding joins eventing royalty this weekend, it will not only vindicate that investment, but could also set in motion an exciting new chapter.
“I have produced this horse since he was a two-year-old,” she added. “I know him so well.
“Having a partnership over all these years is quite a special thing.
“It takes a long time to produce a horse to this level and it’s extremely satisfying to think that after the years of hard work everything will be rewarded.”
Cooper’s Law, or Spider as he is more familiarly known at home, laid down a first marker towards four star at Boekelo last year while representing Britain in the Nations Cup.
Four star qualification was then sealed in June when the pair finished an excellent ninth in esteemed company at the Bramham International Horse Trials.
She added: “I was so pleased. I really hoped we could nail a top 10 place and we did.
“He put up a really solid performance and I couldn’t have asked for any more from him.”
But a decision to enter Burghley was put on the backburner until the British team for the European Championships, also held in September, was announced.
The pair were named on a lengthy reserve list for the Blair Castle showpiece, persuading the Leicestershire rider to plump for the none-too-shabby consolation.
“It will be his biggest challenge and having been away from Burghley for so long, it feel’s like it’s my first time all over again,” Chandler said.
“Eleven-and-a-half minutes of cross country is a huge challenge, but he’s well prepared and in good form.
“He has lots of experience behind him at lower levels, but this is the first time at this calibre so it will be exciting to see how both of us face up to it.
“I’m hoping to have fun and enjoy the challenge, and hope we both have a good time.”