Ensign put in what rider Pippa Funnell described as “a personal best” in the dressage at the new four-star event at Pau, France, today. The pair scored 41.6 to lead going into the cross-country.

“He’s not like Primmore’s Pride or Supreme Rock in that he’ll never find it easy, but he’s a real little trier,” said Pippa of the 12-year-old ex-racehorse.

Pippa heads Australian Matt Ryan, who lies second on Bonza Puzzle, and home favourite Nicolas Touzaint with Hildago De L’Ile.

Matt said: “I think I got the most I could out of Bonza Puzzle today. I’m not going to boast about his presence or movement — he’s just a dumpy little Australian Thoroughbred, though he doesn’t look like one — but he tried hard and did what I call a watertight test. There were no leaks, such as fluffing the changes.”

Matt expressed concerns about Pierre Michelet’s new four-star track, saying he felt the riders would have to pull the horses around a lot on the bending lines of the direct routes.

But Pippa Funnell said: “I have every confidence in Pierre Michelet as a designer. If the horses are going well and riders are riding well it will jump ok, but as riders we’ve got to be concentrating every bit of the way. It’s certainly a four-star track.”

Log back on for more updates from Pau during the weekend and don’t forget to buy Horse & Hound next Thursday (1 November) for a full report.

RESULTS AFTER DRESSAGE

1. Ensign (Pippa Funnell, GBR) 41.6
2. Bonza Puzzle (Matt Ryan, AUS) 42.2
3. Hildago De L’Ile (Nicolas Touzaint, FRA) 42.4
4. Yeoman’s Point (Andrew Hoy, AUS) 42.6
5. Rose’s Merlin (Karin Donckers, BEL) 43.8
6. Glenburny Du Leou (Pascal Leroy, FRA) 45.6