Equestrian rider Chris Burton is about to take part in a competition he considers bigger than the Olympics.
The Hawkesbury rider will represent Australia at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) on August 23 and after strong performances at last year’s London Olympics he knows he’ll have to improve if he’s to stand on the dais in Normandy.
“Many riders would consider WEG more prestigious to win than the Olympic Games,” Burton said.
“Of course we all want to win an Olympic medal but in the past the WEG has been a tougher test.
“For Australians, and certainly for me personally, to represent your country at either of these competitions is a great honour.
“I personally believe the Pierre Michelet course at the Worlds will be a very influential phase on the team scores.”
Burton will also have to contend with riding a new horse, but he’s got plenty of confidence in his partner’s ability to handle the tough event.
“What he lacks in size he more than makes up for in heart,” Burton said. “If someone were to tell him he was only just 16 hands he would be devastated, but he is an incredibly tough thoroughbred and always gives 110 per cent.
“I still can’t believe how lucky I am to be given the ride on him.”
Burton has been preparing extensively for the event, and expects Australia’s rich eventing history to continue at the world titles.
“I think realistically we have as strong a team of horses and riders as we have ever had,’’ he said.
‘‘I think we are well overdue for a good run at WEG.
“There is no reason why Australia can’t be on the podium with a gold medal.”
The Pierre Michelet course will test the riders but that’s what Burton expects when deciding a world champion.
“There are quite a lot of hills and the terrain is taxing,” he said. “Pierre Michelet is considered to be a very technical course designer.’’