There will be everything to play for in this afternoon’s final show jumping session at Badminton. Leader William Fox-Pitt has less than a fence in hand over Andrew Nicholson, who is breathing down his neck only 2.6 penalties behind.

There was disappointment at the final veterinary inspection for Ireland’s Becky George this morning, after enjoying a cracking round with Wee Hot Toddy yesterday. She said: “I always said I had the best cross-country horse; now I know. I don’t care about the time penalties I just wanted to get round.”

Get round she did, and the combination lay 23rd this morning following the withdrawal of Emilie Chandler and Bridgestone. But the vets detected a faint nod as Wee Hot Toddy trotted up, and the horse was eliminated.

There were anxious moments for the youngest rider competing this year, Matthew Wright, when both of his rides were sent to the holding box, but eventually both In The Purple and Mallards Treat were passed fit for the final phase.

The show jumping this morning proved that taking a gamble with time almost inevitably resulted in fences down. There were a couple of fences on the turning course that seemed to have a magnetic draw to horses’ hind legs, most notably the Olympic 2012 fence. Lets hope it isn’t a sign of things to come.

New Zealander Kate Lambie headed the lower half of the field at lunchtime, and will get at least 21st place. She produced one of only four clear rounds, with veteran Australian Matt Ryan showing his experience on Bonza Puzzle and Laurence Hunt leaving it up to Proud Ginger to show his true class in a delicately ridden round.

Battle really commences later this afternoon, when the top 20 riders after the cross-country jump. Less than eight points split the top five, and if this morning’s rattling poles are anything to go by, positions after the cross-country are anything but conclusive.

This morning’s results

21. Nufarm Alibi (Kate Lambie) NZL 102.4

22. Blakring*Mili*Hn (Gilles Viricel) FRA 103.2

23. Skiver (Nicola Tweddle) 105.4

24. In the Purple (Matthew Wright) 106.0

25. Flush Banker (Andrew Nicholson) NZL 106.6

26. Bonza Puzzle (Matt Ryan) AUS 113.2

27. Proud Ginger (Laurence Hunt) 116.4

28. Milcane (Benoit Parent) FRA 122.4

29. Macloud (Eric Smiley) IRL 133.0

30. Master Couture (Ruth Friend) 133.2