Mary King proved her talent for producing horses this weekend when she finished third in the World Breeding Championships with home-bred Kings Gem. Despite the rain and heavy going at Lion d’Angers in France, the seven-year-old Rock King progeny jumped clear round a taxing two-star track.

Polly Stockton (Westwood Joker), Lucy Wiegersma (Woodfalls Inigo Jones) and Cressida Clague Reading (Cesari) also clinched places within the top 10, demonstrating the quality of Britain’s younger horses. Unfortunately William Fox-Pitt was forced to withdraw Chuckleberry prior to Sunday’s trot up.

The cross-country course, which ran a slightly different route this year, caught out a number of combinations. However King’s clear round moved her from seventh to fourth place at the end of day two. France’s Aurélien Khan and Lord de Lignière, dressage leaders with a flashy 31.2 pen dressage score, remained leaders for a second night after a flawless clear round.

The leader board was given a dramatic shake-up in the show jumping phase, with only six combinations jumping clear. Mary King and Kings Gem jumped a stylish round but knocked a pole, adding four penalties to their score. Fortunately for King, plenty of others suffered worse problems and rather than moving down the leader board, she moved from fourth into third place.

Germany’s Kai Rüder with Katmandu produced one of the few clear rounds, moving them from 10th place to second ahead of King. “I’ve never been so happy!” Rüder said afterwards, “I was 15th after the dressage, 10th after the cross-country and now I am second thanks to Katmandu’s clear round.” Sam Griffiths from Australia also made a meteoric rise, leaping from 12th place to fourth after a clear round aboard Happy Times.

When Kahn and Lord de Lignière entered the arena, they had obtained a wide margin for manoeuvre. “Show jumping is not Lord’s strong point,” Khan admitted beforehand. “He often has four faults, as he has a tendency to be stressed…” In fact the pair clocked up eight faults but their 39.20 score still earned them the 2006 World Breeding Championship title.

Read Horse & Hound’s full report, including analysis and pictures, in this Thursday’s magazine (26 October, ’06)