Australian Paul Tapner (pictured) put in the best test this afternoon at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials to take third place.

Paul scored 48.5 with Inonothing to slot in behind Oliver Townend (Flint Curtis) and William Fox-Pitt (Ballincoola), who retain the top two places they took this morning.

“He did a nice test, though it wasn’t as good as I was hoping for, but then you rarely get that,” said Paul. “I was hoping his flying changes would be a lot better, as he is more cemented in them than previously, but they didn’t feel as nice as they have in training.”

But Paul said his first impression of Mark Phillips’s cross-country course suggests that there will be plenty of changes in the leader board on Saturday.

“This is no dressage competition — everybody will have their work cut out on Saturday,” he predicted.

Paul is looking for a good result after disappointment at Badminton when the normally consistent Inonothing had a late run out across country, spoiling his chances of a slot on the Australian team at the Olympics in Hong Kong.

Listen to Paul’s interview

Clea Phillipps was the other person to make an impression at the sharp end this afternoon, taking fifth on her 2006 Blair winner Lead The Way, despite two errors of course.

“That was really blonde of me,” she said. “But I’m pleased as that’s the best he’s gone yet. Last year he was like a child at a fairground here and he feels like he’s grown up this time.”

Early changes to the order are expected tomorrow, as dressage expert Ruth Edge is first on with Mr Dumbledore at 9.30am, while Andrew Hoy takes the stage two horses later on 2004 winner Moon Fleet.

RESULTS ON THURSDAY EVENING

1. Flint Curtis (Oliver Townend, GB) 45.4
2. Ballincoola (William Fox-Pitt, GB) 48.2
3. Inonothing (Paul Tapner, AUS) 48.5
4. Apache Sauce (Mary King, GB) 49.1
5. Lead The Way (Clea Phillipps, GB) 49.6
6. Comanche (James Robinson, GB) 49.8

Keep logging onto www.horseandhound.co.uk/burghley08 for updates, blogs and video from Burghley.

Don’t forget to buy Horse & Hound next Thursday (11 September) for a 12-page special report, colour photographs and William Fox-Pitt’s comment.