By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
Greta Mason was pleased to come through the first leg of her 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials debut in a strong position after Cooley For Sure impressed in Thursday’s dressage.
Swindon’s Mason, 26, is a newcomer to the prestigious 5* event but made an immediate impression with a dressage score of 32.2, placing the pair ahead of Olympian Austin O’Connor and Burghley veteran Harry Meade.
Irish-bred 16-year-old Cooley For Sure has been in the Mason family for more than a decade and their mutual understanding was clear to see on day one in Lincolnshire.
“He did everything I was hoping for, he tried really hard,” said Mason.
“Dressage wouldn’t be his favourite phase, but he does go in there and tries his best, so it was what I was hoping for a first timer.
“It’s a big atmosphere with lots to look at but he really kept his focus which was great. It’s my first time too so it’s very special.”
Mason won the British U25 championship at Bramham onboard Cooley For Sure in her final tilt in the competition and is hoping to emerge as a shock victor at the world-famous Burghley House this week.
The pair, who based in Wiltshire along with former Badminton winner Ronnie Powell, had their first taste of 5* life at Pau last year, finishing 14th.
Mason is keenly aware that Saturday’s cross-country event is set to play a big role in determining the outcome of the competition, with each of the last seven winners having led at that stage, and she insists is ready for the ultimate challenge.
“I think Burghley is like any other 5* in the world,” added Mason. “There aren’t many and it’s renowned for being big and bold, there are the hills too which play a big part in the course.
“As much as you’ve got to jump the jumps, you have to deal with the terrain and how the horses feel on the ground and how they get tired and all the rest of it, so there is definitely a lot to think about as you go round the course.”
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