Class of 2024 – Day 1

Wednesday 7th - 11th May 2025

Class of 2024 – Day 1

Eight first timers started their campaigns today, with another seven in the areana tomorrow.

First out was Max Warburton (pictured with Andrew Nicholson and Susie Berry) riding Monbeg Exclusive, a 13-year-old Irish-bred Sport Horse. Max, 25, is based near Southam in Warwickshire where he runs his own yard having learnt the ropes on an apprenticeship with Graham and Tina Fletcher.

His mount was originally produced by Italian rider Stefano Brecciaroli and then ridden by Andrew Nicholson before Max took over the reins at the beginning of 2022. They posted a score of 31.7

‘He’s an absolute showman, very level headed – I’m delighted. And Andrew Nicholson is here to give me a pep talk ahead of the cross-country!’

India Wishart, 28, is riding one of five 18-year-old horses in the field, Diamond Sundance who was ridden to five-star by the owners daughter, Rosa Onslow. India is based with Pippa Funnell at The Billy Stud. Diamond Sundance sits on a score of 38.8.

‘There were definitely things to improve on, but he relaxed more during the test. It was quite an electric atmosphere in there, even on a Thursday, but a cool arena to ride in. I think it helped having done a five-star before.’ [The pair completed Pau in 2023].

The first overseas debutant was Meghan O’Donoghue, USA, with another 18-year-old horse, Palm Crescent. Megan, 34, who is from an eventing family, has completed four five-star events including Burghley in 2022. She is based in Virginia, wintering in Florida.

Meghan was given the ride on ‘Palmer’ in 2015, buying him with her fiance Will Duhring in 2020. The pair scored 34.7.

‘I’m so thrilled; there was a lot of atmosphere in there and dressage is not the easiest phase for him.’

Gaspard Maksud, FRA, is another first timer. The British-based rider, 31, rides one of the smallest horses, the 15.3hh, 10-year-old Kan-Do 2. A former French Junior Champion, he has represented France at senior championships and been based with both Andrew Nicholson and Sam Griffiths. Now with his own yard, he trains with Andrew Nicholson.

Kan-Do 2 is by a son of Kannan who jumped out of his field and covered a pony mare, hence his size. He scored 38.1.

‘Going under the archway for the first time is very auspicious; it’s a good atmosphere in there. He’s a little horse with a big heart – dressage is a hard phase for him, cross-country is what he likes better.’

Representing Canada is Jessica Phoenix with Wabbit. A past Olympian and veteran team rider Jessica, 41, is based in Ontario but made the trip to Burghley last year, finishing 11th.

Wabbit ran five times on the track and was acquired by Jessica as a four-year-old. The pair scored 40.3.

‘He showed a lot of composure in that ring. He’s the fittest he’s ever been, which I think will be good having seen the cross country course.’

Another French starter is amateur rider Florian Ganneval, 38. The full-time farrier from south-eastern France brings forward the 13-year-old Blue Bird de Beaufour. Bought as a four-year-old, Blue Bird was extremely nervous of humans and could originally only be mounted in the box.

On a score of 34.7 Florian said: ‘I think the test was good for me. The cross country is big but I think the lines are clear.’

Will Rawlin, 30, who completed Luhmuhlen on The Partner in 2023, rides five-star first timer Ballycoog Breaker Boy. He runs his own yard near Marlborough. Breaker Boy was originally produced by Vicky Tuffs, and last year the pair won the FEI 3* at Charlbury.

Scoring 36.1 Will admitted: ‘I am disappointed – the horse has felt fantastic in training and was phenomenal when he cantered in. He’s never broken in the extended and so I was shocked by that and then when I couldn’t get him back, I thought “Oh God!” I didn’t exactly notice the crowd, but I felt it and so did the horse. Eric [Winter, course-designer] has done an unbelievable job and the ground will be amazing.’

Today’s final debutant was 23-year-old Cosby Green, USA. Cosby is based in the UK with Tim and Jonelle Price and last year, with Badminton entry Copper Beech, finished 16th at Pau – her first five-star.

Copper Beech is one of the five 18-year-old’s competing. He was acquired from Buck Davidson Jr who produced him to four-star.

The pair scored 33.7 and Cosby was upbeat: ‘The cross-country is stunning and I can’t wait to get out there. It’s massive! I came as a spectator last year and I’m glad I did or I’d have been in shock. In fact, I was really nervous at the trot-up!’