He might be an old hand at his beloved Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, but Simon Grieve is readying himself for a new challenge.
Grieve, who is now based at Tilton-on-the-Hill, will compete in the elite three-day event for the sixth time with two horses who are making their four-star debuts.
Up-and-coming geldings Drumbilla Metro, also known as Splash, and Douglas, were both produced by Stathern event rider Emilie Chandler who has helped take several horses up to the top echelon of eventing.
The pair will be aiming 100 horses taking to the international four-star event at Burghley Park.
The Leicestershire rider has finished in the top 50 in three of his four competing years on long-time companion Cornacrew who is now hacking about and winding down to retirement at the age of 18.
And despite not riding with his trusted companion this time round, the 35-year-old remains optimistic about debuting Splash and Douglas.
“I have a lot faith in both of them,” he said. “They’re both very strong jumpers and they’re both very brave. I’m really excited to see what they can do.
“Cornacrew is the most amazing horse, and like these two horses, is just a very strong jumper.
“All three of them have been brought up similarly, they have a lot of self-belief and haven’t been made to think any different because of the way they’ve been produced and brought up.”
Grieve, who earned his 60th British Eventing win in his opening event at Isleham in March, will be heading to Burghley on the back of some fine form with both Splash and Douglas this year, with Splash finishing 10th at the Bramham International in June.
“It has been the best result of my career so far. I was really thrilled with that,” added Grieve.
“I thought Bramham was a really strong track – and really a three-and-a-half-star course rather than a four-star course.
“Both boys have now done two three-star events and they’ve both found it really easy, so we thought we’d have a go at Burghley; why not?
“They both have different strengths. It’s not his strongest point the dressage, but Splash has really improved in that area.
“I’d like to think Splash will be more competitive because I know him so much better.
“We’ve been together for a long time, but equally Douglas is a very talented horse, so it’s difficult to say who’ll fare better.
“I’d love to be in the top 20 – that would be really good. I think it’s a realistic one.”
* The multi-award winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials from August 31 to September 3 has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for more than 50 years. For more information, visit burghley-horse.co.uk