Germany’s Kai Rueder leapfrogged to the top of the leaderboard after a day of cross-country drama, which saw the top three after dressage crash out of contention.

Partnering the nine-year-old Saaten Unions Charly Weld, Kai was one of 14 riders to finish clear inside the time to move up from fourth to first on a score of 42.

“I brought my horse here because I wanted him to gain confidence and experience from Ian Stark’s course,” said Kai. “Last year, a lot of horses who went well at Bramham — like Redesigned and Jakata [second with Piggy French] — went on to go very well at bigger competitions later in the year [at the WEG]. My horse certainly benefited from the run.”

Just one show jump now separates the top four after cross-country.

Polly Stockton and Anne Henson’s four-star veteran Regulus finished one second over the optimum time to leave them just over three penalties clear of Oliver Townend and Neo Du Breuil.

“He felt a little tired towards the end of the course, but he’s a warrior and he kept going,” said Polly. “I was glad to be on an experienced horse, though, as this was a serious three-star track.”

Dressage leader Pippa Funnell saw her chances evaporate early on when she fell from Billy Landretti at the Cartas Jonas Combination (fence 4a), an airy viaduct wall at the top of a steep slope down. But last year’s winner gained some compensation in the form of Jane and Jonathan Clarke’s big-striding Pure Addiction, who finished clear and just over the time to lie sixth overnight.

Sarah Cohen (Treason) and Clea Phillips (Lead The Way) occupy fourth and fifth places.

Problems were well spread around Ian Stark’s 24-fence CCI*** course. As well as fence 4, which saw a smattering of refusals, the two water complexes were predictably influential. The first, the Dickinson Dees Beachside (8abc) caused 14 blotted scoresheets, while the second, the two-element Tuffa Boots (fence 20), proved the undoing of Germany’s Simone Deitermann and Free Easy NRW and Kirsten Tomsen (Horseware’s Master Boy), who both retired there.

Camilla Speirs retains under-25 lead

The cross-country proved significantly less influential in the Under-25 CCI*** and the top four places after dressage remain unaltered. Ireland’s Camilla Speirs retains her narrow overnight lead aboard Portersize Just A Jiff (46), just 0.2 of a penalty ahead of Helen Dunning and Keep Your Options Open (46.2).

“I’m delighted him,” said Camilla, who was held on course for around 20min while medics attended to Lauren Yallop, who fell from One More Step at fence 13, the double of brushes. “He’s only a little horse, but he can get quick times as I don’t have to set him up too much in front of the fences.”

Jonathan Paget wins CIC*** on new ride

Jonathan Paget leapt up three places onto the winner’s podium in the CIC***, which completed this afternoon. His fast cross-country ride, which saw him finish 25secs under the optimum aboard Clifton Lush, gave him a one-penalty winning margin over Emily Parker and Treefers.

Jonathan has recently taken on the ride on the 12-year-old gelding from Joe Meyer.

“I’ve had him since February and this was my fifth run with him. Up until now I haven’t let the handbrake off across country, but as this was his last outing before Luhmuhlen I let him run on here, and he responded really well,” said Jonathan, who names this horse as his most likely London 2012 candidate.

Reigning Young Rider European Champions Emily Parker and Treefers shone in all three phases to finish second on 50.8, while Andrew Nicholson and Armada had one of only three cross-country rides inside the time in this class to claim third place on 52.8.

Overnight leaders Neil Spratt and Upleadon had retained their lead after a clear showjumping round only to have a refusal at the angled Dickinson Dees Whaletail coming out of the first water (fence 10).

CCI*** results after cross-country

1. Kai Rueder on Saaten Unions Charly Weld (GER) 42
2. Polly Stockton on Regulus (GB) 42.8
3. Oliver Townend on Neo Du Breuil (GB) 45
4. Sarah Cohen on Treason (GB) 45.6
5. Clea Phillips on Lead The Way (GB) 45.8
6. Pippa Funnell on Pure Addiction (GB) 47.2

Under-25 CCI*** after cross-country

1. Camilla Speirs on Portersize Just A Jiff (IRL) 46
2. Helen Dunning on Keep Your Options Open (GB) 46.2
3. Ben Hobday on Uptons Who (GB) 49.4
4. Ludwig Svennerstal on King Bob (SWE) 50
5. Paul Sims on Power Of Dreams (GB) 51.2
6. Tom McEwen on Dry Old Party (GB) 52

CIC*** Final Results

1. Jonathan Paget on Clifton Lush (NZ) 49.4
2. Emily Parker on Treefers (GB) 50.8
3. Andrew Nicholson on Armada (NZ) 52.8

Stay in touch with all the action from Bramham Horse Trials across the weekend on Horseandhound.co.uk, and enjoy H&H’s full report in the magazine, on sale 9 June