Mary King holds the lead after the first 30 riders have been round the cross-country at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

Mary and the white-faced chestnut Apache Sauce went clear inside the time to add nothing to their dressage score of 44.8, which left her sixth after the first phase.

“He’s very easy, though he did do a few fences in his own unique style,” said Mary. “When we’re on a closer stride [to the fence] I feel I need to support him with my hand and then he puts his head up — he loves to jump with his head up — which doesn’t look very good. If I can soften my hand he stays in a nice shape.”

William Fox-Pitt lies second after adding just 2 time-penalties on Macchiato. The horse lost a shoe at the Land Rover Trout Hatcheries (fences 8, 9 and 10), which William felt made him a bit insecure on his turns, but he was pleased after Macchiato had a less happy experience here last year — William pulled the horse up after problems at Discovery Valley.

“You never know if they are going to remember,” he said.

Three more riders who all added nothing to their dressage scores fill the next three phases. Germany’s Anna Warnecke is third on Twinkle Bee, Andrew Nicholson is fourth on the talented 11-year-old Armada — who he said is now reading the fences like an old experienced horse — and Louise Skelton is fifth on Partly Pickled.

The current order could be upset if Pippa Funnell decides to appeal the 20 penalties she was given after Mirage D’Elle ran sideways along the top of the big drop at the Leaf Pit (fence 4); after dismounting she headed off to review the video footage. Should she have these taken away, she would race up the leader board — at this stage, from 15th to sixth, although with riders finishing all the time, the standings will have changed again by then.

The course is proving easier than in previous years, with 17 jumping clears and 22 finishers so far out of 26 starters.

James Robinson, 16th after dressage on Comanche, has been the best-placed victim of the track so far, with a run-out at the Land Rover Arena complex near the end of the course.

Don’t forget to buy H&H next week (9 September issue) for a full 10-page report from Burghley, including comment from cross-country course-designer Mark Phillips.

CURRENT STANDINGS AT 12.50pm

1.Mary King on Apache Sauce (GB) 44.8
2.William Fox-Pitt on Macchiato (GB) 48.8
3.Anna Warnecke on Twinkle Bee (GER) 50.5
4.Andrew Nicholson on Armada (NZL) 54
5.Louise Skelton on Partly Pickled (GB) 54.3
6.Rebecca Gibbs on Ariel Spirit (GB) 63.9