Dixon's collection for the year includes team gold and individual bronze medals at the World Equestrian Games with the 14- year-old Get Smart. She also won the Punchestown Three-Day Event in Ireland and the British Open at Gatcombe on Too Smart, who looks the obvious successor to her older partner.
Burghley will be the biggest test that Too Smart has faced so far, but the eight-year-old bay gelding looks able to handle such a challenge. 'He's only small, but he loves it,' Dixon said, referring to the cross-country phase which riders will tackle on Saturday.
Mary Thomson and Kristina Gifford, also in the victorious team at the World Games, have two horses to ride. Thomson will be on Star Appeal, who sustained a fracture of the off-foreleg in January when kicked in the field by King Kong, who is her other Burghley mount. Gifford rides Kings River and Midnight Blue II.
Virginia Elliott, the most prolific winner of the competition, will be aiming for her sixth victory on the lovely mare, Welton Romance. New Zealand's Mark Todd goes for his fourth win. He rides Nick Burton's former partner, Bertie Blunt, who went so well for his new rider when finishing third at Gatcombe.
Captain Mark Phillips, who designed the 34 cross-country fences, says that the course is 'as big as last year, but more user friendly.'
The Princess Royal is to be co- designer of a new intermediate cross-country course, due to be built at Gatcombe in October.