It doesn't really get much bigger than Burghley - the only eventing fixture listed in the top 10 sporting spectator events in the UK, extensive BBC coverage and not to mentioned some fairly sizeable fences!
A second trip to Burghley for Imogen and a first time for Ivar Gooden, however with the Badminton success and the Silver medal in France under their belts there was certainly a lot more focus on them as a combination that could produce a good result.
The event started with a fair bit of filming. What we thought was going to be a low key meeting with Harriet Lily from A Girl About Country, to work out a trot up outfit, kindly sponsored by a number of the Burghley sponsors was in fact a full on filming session with the Burghley TV team and John Kyle! Nothing like a quick spring clean of the lorry for a grey Wednesday morning at Burghley.
Filming done it was onto the trot up - with our carefully selected outfit! Imogen wore the Langham Ankle Boots from Joules, the Technical BR2 Pea Coat from Musto, over a Dubarry shirt, finished off with a Navy fedora from Mackenzie & George and a selection of bespoke jewellery from HiHo Silver.
The main aim of the trot up was obviously to pass and get Sir Charles safely through to the main part of the competition....mission accomplished! To much delight it was also announced that we had won Best Shod, all thanks to our incredible team farrier, Paul Varnam. Sadly we missed out on the best dressed prize, but we have it on good authority we were a close second and if it had been raining we'd have definitely won!
Thursday was a 'day off', a day off from competing but a busy morning with filming for the BBC and a course walk for new sponsors Majyk Equipe.
Definitely a new experience filming with Clare Balding and baby Zorro was such a pro, taking it all in his stride.
Dressage, the necessary phase to get to the jumping. Charles has made such improvement in his flat work this year, which made his score of 58.4 a little disappointing. Not usually a spooky horse, he was somewhat distracted and tense due to the close proximity of the photographers at the A end near the crowds. The clicking of the camera shutters was rather loud. 51st after dressage seemed like a mountain to climb up the leaderboard.
Friday was also the BYEH 4-year-old final for Zorro. He wowed the judges in the dressage, jumped a beautiful round around the colour and rustic fences and trotted up beautifully to move into the second round. Cantering and galloping as a ground around a big, busy arena such as this one is quite an ask for a young horse, but Zorro took up the challenge like the pro that he was.
Ride judge Blyth Tait just didn't like him quite enough to ride him, so finished in 5th, just outside of the final 4.
Saturday's Cross Country - a track to sought the men from the boys and to make the rest of the team feel a little queasy whilst waiting.
Sir Charles rose to the challenge impeccably and as a partnership they STORMED round the imposing 4* track. Light work was made of the gruelling track with Charles finishing full of running...and Imogen's arms most likely a few inches longer!
What a feat to finish the cross country 34 places higher than after dressage, never did we think we'd be heading into the final trot up and show jumping in 15th place!
On to Sunday...a 100% clear jumping rate for Sir Charles in 2017, the pressure was on. Could Imogen and Charles maintain the form and put the pressure on the riders above them? Yes they could! A perfect round from the young pair left them 14th in their 2nd 4* together.
Only 1 of 2 pairs to produce both a double clear at Badminton and Burghley in 2017 - the future is certainly going to be a Gooden!
The final stop in the Big B tour is always Blenheim, the most spectacular venue, where we all get compete in the grounds of this beautiful palace. When competing at a palace it was quite fitting to take the Princess for a spin around the CCI*** - Tomgar Jess was feeling very much at home.
A Personal Best in the dressage left them in 49th after the dressage with it all very much to play for a cross country.
Another impressive cross country round, in what was a testing track. One of the fastest rounds of the day, even with a shoe lost in the early stages, saw Jess and Imogen rise to 18th!
A few too many poles rolled in the jumping to trouble the top of the leaderboard, but what a horse for the future!