By Abi Curran at Defender Burghley Horse Trials
Wills Oakden wants his two terrific top-ten finishes at the Defender Burghley Horse Trials to function as a source of inspiration for more Scottish equestrian stars.
The Fife-based eventing ace took fifth and eighth place at the 5* event with Oughterard Cooley and Arklow Puissance.
And after speculation about where Oakden, 33, will base himself after the famed Burghley Three-Day-Event, he said is firmly rooted in Perthshire for the foreseeable.
“There’s a huge equestrian community,” he said. “I’m just really proud to represent them and be here and put an account of it.
“We deserve a bit more respect and I’m really glad to be the leader on that pathway at the moment.
“Hopefully people keep progressing on that pathway and I can be an inspiration for others.
“We hadn’t really thought about it coming down, we just thought let’s try and give the best account of ourselves possible.
“Having done that and to see where they’ve placed is beyond our wildest dreams.
Oakden was fresh from a win at the Defender Blair Castle International after a clear show jumping round.
He took his noble geldings to Badminton for the first time in May where Arklow Puissance was eliminated while Oughterard Cooley impressed in 13th.
And a double Burghley triumph topped off an incredible year for the former British Young Rider team gold medallist.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” he added. “You come to places like this as kids and you dream of riding round in one day and when you get those opportunities in one day it’s beyond belief.
“It’s good here to do it and to do it well and to be in the prize-giving is just incredible.
“I’ll just keep working hard, keep going and just keep trying to get opportunities, try and get the best out of them and see where it takes us.
“Hopefully one day we’ll keep progressing and keep working for bigger and better things.”
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 www.burghley-horse.co.uk