With her appetite whetted by an excellent return to Burghley last weekend, Emilie Chandler has her sights fixed firmly on further four star adventures.
The adrenalin and nervous energy was plentiful as the Stathern eventer made her first appearance at four star competition in 12 years.
But Chandler and Cooper’s Law showed no signs of anxiety on the big stage, completing the toughest of equestrian examinations in a highly encouraging 21st position.
It was a cause of particular pride for the rider who has spent nine years developing her new star pupil, known as Spider around the Stathern yard, up to elite level.
She said: “He gave me a super ride. Overall it was a very positive experience and one which we can build on and improve for next year.
“I hope this is just the beginning at this level for him. So long as he stays injury-free there is no reason why we can’t compete at that level again next year.”
The pair began with a decent dressage test on Thursday, finishing with 52.2 points which left them joint 47th.
“He was very well behaved, but sadly just got a little bit excited,” she added.
“I think it suddenly dawned on him where he was during the walk to trot which cost us a lot of marks.
“But the rest of his work was as good as he could have done at this point in his career.”
Nerves were at their highest all weekend as Saturday’s cross country discipline approached.
Not only did they face a fiendishly tough course, designed to test the world’s very best horse and rider combinations, it was also two minutes longer than anything Spider had previously travelled over.
Chandler said: “The nerves were really high on Saturday morning. You just want to get out there and give it a go.
“You have to control your mind from making too big a deal of it.
“Once I get on him I always feel a lot more relaxed, but building up to it in the morning, my legs were shaking a bit.”
The Captain Mark Phillips-designed course claimed several high profile casualties with only 49 of the 74 starters reaching the show jumping finale.
Somerby-based Australian rider Andrew Hoy, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, was among them, unseated by Rutherglen early in the round after an excellent dressage test had placed them fourth.
But Cooper’s Law adapted superbly, adding just 13 time faults to their overall score after a confident round.
She said: “It was obviously going into the unknown for him because these courses are unique to this level.
“But he really rose to the occasion and actually made it feel pretty easy.
“He just got a little bit tired in the last two minutes. He normally finishes very strongly, but I had to look after him over the last five fences.”
The performance lifted them up to 23rd and in sight of a top 20 finish, but two fences down in the show jumping arena on Sunday left them just a place outside.
“He recovered very well on Saturday night, but had the last fence down which was a shame,” she said.
“But all in all I was very proud of him and pleased with the weekend.
”My team was incredibly supportive and we managed to enjoy ourselves which isn’t always possible!”
As well as the blue riband event, Chandler also enjoyed some encouraging results in the Young Horse class on Friday where she guided Quite Something to 10th place.
While the eventing season draws to a close, she already has designs on taking Spider’s stablemate Gino Royale up a level to join him in four star company next year. She also hopes to attract new horses and owners to their stables to satisfy her taste for the top table.
“I loved being back there; it’s just brilliant to be part of Burghley from a riding point of view,” she added.
“I wish I had a whole string of horses at that level because I really thrive on that challenge.”
* For more information, visit www.emiliechandler.com or call Emilie on 07815 796647.