William Fox-Pitt made an early impression on the dressage scores at Burghley this morning, with a near foot-perfect test on Ballincoola. They recorded a personal best four-star score, and it would be a fitting finish if the pair could improve on their Lexington fourth place.

Although Fox-Pitt has been on flying form for much of the season, he suffered a terrible misfortune in Athens when Tamarillo chipped a stifle and had to be withdrawn after the cross-country.

The rest of the performances this morning were variable, with the flying changes causing as many problems as yesterday, but today also saw some riders unable to persuade their horses to walk, while others had problems maintaining trot when it mattered.

There were a few notable exceptions however.

Shillelagh Gold looked spectacular under John Marsden, putting on a fine display of his extravagant paces to move into fifth equal place. This combination also recorded their best four-star score to date, and although they are not always the fastest duo across country, they are very well placed going into tomorrow’s phase.

Leicestershire-based rider Lucy Kemplay, who was eliminated on the cross-country here last year, got off to a good start on Karl d’Cymbeline. They are in eighth place on 47.4. Their confidence is on the up this season, with two CCI*** sixth places – at Bramham and Thirlestane Castle – and could produce great things if they can hold it together tomorrow.

Francis Whittington also looked impressive on Spin Doctor, shining throughout, but dropping down the order with a couple of mistakes. This is the pair’s first attempt at four-star level, although Whittington completed on Doonbeg Lady three years ago.

This combination were one of this year’s few four-star debutant partnerships to produce a competitive dressage performance, and their success at Gatcombe Park at the beginning of August (when they finished first in one of the advanced sections, with one of the fastest cross country rounds of the competition) will put them in good stead for a low-penalty round tomorrow.

Burghley results, dressage day two

1. Ballincoola (William Fox-Pitt) 42.4;
2. Moon Fleet (Andrew Hoy AUS) 44.4;
3. Tangle Man (Polly Stockton) 44.8;
4. Shear H2O (Leslie Law) 46.0;
=5. Shillelagh Gold (John Marsden) 46.6;
=5. Foreign Exchange (Terry Boon) 46.6.