Pippa Funnell was untouchable at Burghley this afternoon, looking the epitomy of perfection on Cornerman. The enormous amount of work she put into her Olympic mission is obviously paying off elsewhere, as just as in Athens, with Primmore’s Pride, her trot work was immaculate, with nines littering the scoreboard, and even a couple of tens creeping in for her extended trot work.

“I’ve had to put a lot of work into this horse, as he finds his dressage really tough, and even today in the warm-up he cantered when I asked for trot, but Tracy Robinson [who helped the team in Athens] helped me out.

“I’ve felt in the past that he was too flash in front with not quite enough behind, but on the strength of today’s performance, that is all coming together now.”

Not riding until later on tomorrow, Pippa will have plenty of opportunity to see how the course is riding and to judge the three upright gates on the course. It was the first gate into the Huntsman’s Close that was of course Pippa’s downfall on both her rides at Badminton this spring.

“The course is bigger than Badminton,” she says, ” and there are enough gates.

“I’ve had some good rides on Cornerman, and some blips, but I’ve always felt that there is a good performance in him, and I’m hoping it is this weekend!”

Andrew Nicholson, who, like Andrew Hoy experienced the unexpected and had a tumble in Athens, has come to Burghley with his characteristic determination. Riding the elastic and forward-moving Lord Killinghurst, he achieved several high marks for his extensions.

This combination lead the field going into the cross-country at Badminton, and produced consistent cross-country and show jumping rounds before losing out by a narrow margin to William Fox-Pitt.

There were some disappointments in the latter part of the dressage phase.

Blyth Tait and Eze were impressive earlier this year when winning the Olympic format CIC*** at Punchestown, and have a good completion record at Burghley, finishing in 14th last year, but their performance was not up to scratch this afternoon. Although they currently stand way down the order, their show jumping and cross-country potential could hike them up the order before the weekend is out.

America’s Cindy Rawson had looked a strong contender on Ashdale David’s Way, with some impeccable movements, scoring several nines until moving onto canter work, which let them down badly.

Meanwhile, Sarah Cutteridge had a far from perfect Future Perfect on her hands. The 13-year-old clearly found the occasion all a bit too much, and little could be done to contain his nerves. The gelding had looked flashy at Lexington, but last to go, the duo’s test was a disappointing finish to an adrenaline-fuelled afternoon.

Burghley, results after the dressage.
1. Cornerman (Pippa Funnell) 35.4
2. Lord Killinghurst (Andrew Nicholson NZL) 40.2
3. Ballincoola (William Fox-Pitt) 42.4
4. Moon Fleet (Andrew Hoy AUS) 44.4
5. Tangle Man (Polly Stockton) 44.8
=6. Shear H2O (Leslie Law) 46.0
=6. Tom Quigley (Polly Stockton) 46.0
=8. Foreign Exchange (Terry Boon ) 46.6
=8. Shillelagh Gold (John Marsden) 46.6