Polly Williamson had a superb round in the cross country at Windsor on her second ride Wicked Time. She was delighted with both of her rides, learning from experience on number two:

“The horse [Wicked Time] was phenomenal. I’d had an unfortunate run-out at the second last on Applemoss, which was a real pity as he was going really well.

“I am fairly embarrassed to have gone so fast on wicked time. I had a totally blonde moment at the start and completely forgot to turn my clock on, so I just decided to go in the horse’s rhythm” Polly added.

Cressida Clague-Reading set the pace on early on in the day. Only second to go, she proved how well the course could ride, and stayed on her dressage score to finish in second going into the final phase. Frenchman Franck Bourney fared similarly well, and Badminton champion William Fox-Pitt cruised round on Birthday Night.

Fifth and sixth spot were occupied by two young riders, Isabelle Thomas and Louisa Brassey, who were tied after the dressage, and after steaming around the cross-country course, both remained on the same score. However, Isabelle, by virtue of finishing nearer the optimum time, inched ahead of her younger rival.

Pippa Funnell on Ensign had been having a good round until a run-out at fence 11, the Weatherby’s Stook. “He comes from racing, and he’s always had a few steering problems. I was delighted with him!”

But the day did not pass without some controversy. The bogey fence was without question fence 18, the Cantor Duck Hides (the second water complex), which caused havoc early on, and after approximately 25 horses, part A of the direct route to be taken out. There were several falls as horses misjudged the entry into the water. Andrew Hoy explains:

“In my experience, jumping into water like that, horses don’t understand what is expected of them.”

The Australian hadn’t foreseen any problems at this fence, but riders had voiced concerns at the riders’ conference yesterday evening. The upshot, after 25 horses or so had gone round the cross country, was to remove the first element of the direct route, forcing riders to take the longer alternative for part A.

The fence however, continued to take its toll, and leader after the dressage Terry Boon was one of the many to come a-cropper. One of the fence judges gave her view of the problem:

“Basically, it seems as if the horses can’t work out that it’s water. They’re going into it, and it gives way beneath them as if there is an invisible hole [which there isn’t]. So one of the judges is now making waves before every rider arrives.”

In spite of this, the course seemed to ride fairly well, and there were several clear rounds inside the time. The organising team had worked hard to provide excellent going, although it was still on the ‘firm’ side. There was particular praise from riders for the take offs and landings on the steeplechase, and endless praise for the transformation of the Windsor Horse Trials into an event “which we will all look forward to coming back to” says Andrew Hoy.

CCI** results after the cross country:

1. Wicked Time (Polly Williamson) 42.8
2. James (Cressida Clague Reading) 46.6
3. Belmont on the Road (Franck Bourney) 48.2
4. Birthday Night (William Fox-Pitt) 49.0
5. Flurry Knox V (Isabelle Thomas) 50.0
6. Plantagenet of Rushall (Louisa Brassey) 50.0
7. Balfern Milly Molly Mandy (Gemma Tattersall) 50.2
8. First Flight II (Kristina Cook) 50.8
9. Arctic Fox Too (Leslie Law) 51.8
10. Next Tuesday (Polly Stockton) 52.0