It was an opportunity to see the sport of eventing's elite working with one of the world's most respected horsemen. The United States Equestrian Federation's eventing team is holding its High Performance and Young Developing Riders training sessions this week at Three Runs Plantation, and Capt. Mark Phillips, the U.S. Chef d'Equipe, is coaching a number of the sport's top riders and horses this weekend in Aiken. A cross country training session was held Wednesday at Lellie Ward's Paradise Farm, and Thursday's session at Three Runs Plantation included dressage and show jumping. "The immediate focus is the Rolex Kentucky event at the end of April," said Phillips. "It's all leading up to the World (Equestrian) Games in September 2010. You don't get to the standard overnight. It's a process of development and training, and that's what we're working toward. We have several of the stars here (in Aiken), but there's also a few young riders, who will be looking to displace some of those people. We had one here this morning, Jennie Brannigan, who looked fantastic. She's also a big hopeful for next year." Phillips was part of the United Kingdom's Gold medal winning Olympic team in 1972 and Silver medal winning team in 1988. He has also won Gold medals in the World and European championships and is a four-time winner of Badminton (1971, 1972, 1974 and 1981), with the eventer also capturing Burghley in 1973. The accomplished horseman has also represented the U.K. in show jumping and was a member on two Nation's Cup winning teams. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the riders with whom he's working. "It's a great opportunity to work with some of the top horses and riders in the world. If you're going to have a day job, this is a hell of a day job," said Phillips. "It's not work, it's a pleasure and a privilege because these are special athletes." His enthusiastic approach to training has helped riders achieve optimal results. "The bottom line is winning," said Phillips. "So, you better get to a place where people feel they're in a position to win. I'm lucky I have experience in dressage, cross country and show jumping fields, and I probably have a reasonable rounded knowledge of all three phases of the sport. The bottom line is you're getting them to a place where they can be on team for the World Games. At the end of the day, the ones that are going best next September are the ones that are going to be picked to represent the U.S. team." The vast size of the United States calls for the training sessions to be held in different geographical locations, said Phillips. "I'll be going to California this weekend, and to Ocala (Fla.) next week," said Phillips.