Barbury Castle CIC*** winners Chris King (pictured) and The Secret Weapon lead the Blenheim International Horse Trials by the finest of hairs, just 0.1pen ahead of Kristina Cook and Miners Frolic.

Thirty-year-old Chris gave Lucinda Langlands’ chestnut son of Ballinvella Boy a great ride to pick up just two time-penalties and finish on 47pen, but he will have the experienced Kristina breathing down his neck tomorrow.

“I’ve never been in the lead at a three-day before,” said Chris, “but we’ll come out and give it our best shot tomorrow.”

That master of cross-country riding, Andrew Nicholson, is one fence behind on the Spanish-bred Thoroughbred Armada, 15th after dressage, who although only eight, looked supremely confident round Eric Winter’s cross-country course. Armada, one of just three horses to go inside the time today, is a full-brother to Andrew’s Olympic ride, Fenicio — both were bred by Ramon Beca.

“He’s always been very classy — other riders watch him go and think that the time must be easy to get,” said Andrew.

Lying fourth are Polly Stockton and Regulus on 52.8, a mark ahead of Australian star Clayton Fredericks and Dunges Laurent Rose. The latter, a grey mare, is another eight-year-old, owned by Tim and Alice Page.

Caroline Powell picked up 6.8 time-faults on Mac Macdonald for sixth place overnight. Lucy Wiegersma rode a determined round on Woodfalls Inigo Jones and shot up from 21st after dressage to seventh, and Julie Tew went clear inside the time on the bouncy grey, Look Out — up from 37th yesterday.

Blenheim results after cross-country

1st Chris King (The Secret Weapon) 47
2nd Kristina Cook (Miners Frolic) 47.1
3rd Andrew Nicholson (Armada) 51.3
4th Polly Stockton (Regulus) 52.8
5th Dunges Laurent Rose (Clayton Fredericks) 53.7
6th Caroline Powell (Mac Macdonald) 55.5
7th Lucy Wiegersma (Woodfalls Inigo Jones) 56
8th Julie Tew (Look Out) 56.1
9th Fiona Hobby (Smart Approach) 56.4
10th Hannah Bate (Valdemar) 58.3

View the full results