William Fox-Pitt rode 3 clear rounds inside the optimum time today in the CCI4* at Pau and holds the top 3 places overnight.

This is an incredible feat which opens the possibility of William writing a new record into eventing’s history books — several riders (including him) have notched up 1-2s at 4-star, but no one has ever managed a 1-2-3.

At present, William is 1st on Catherine Witt’s Seacookie TSF (pictured), 2nd on the Hon Teresa Stopford Sackville’s Cool Mountain and 3rd on Margie and David Hall and Judy and Jeremy Skinner’s Neuf Des Coeurs.

“It comes down to the joy of riding 3 experienced horses round a 4-star, who are good at their job and enjoy it,” he said. “As I said yesterday, I wish this was Sunday!

“When you have more than 1 ride, it’s always great when the first goes well. If you have a run-out or something goes wrong with the 1st and it’s a good horse, you think you could be looking at 3 with no clears.

“By the time you get to the 3rd, you think, ‘Do I really want to do this again?’ Your adrenalin is up and down through the day and by the end of the day it doesn’t rise quite so naturally. When the last horse is a really good horse like Cool Mountain — and there was nothing out there that was really worrying me on him — you do have to get on and say to yourself, ‘Come on, this is serious.'”

Pierre Michelet’s cross-country proved influential — there were 35 jumping clears from 72 starters, and just 9 inside the 11min 48sec optimum time.

Dressage leader Lucinda Fredericks was among the course’s victims, with Flying Finish running out at the arrowhead at 25c, the final water complex.

Andrew Nicholson had 20pen on each of his 1st 2 rides (Viscount George and Quimbo) at fence 20b, the 2nd of 2 arrowheads on a bending line.

He holds 6th with Nicky and Robin Salmon’s Mr Cruise Control, who finished just 2sec over the optimum and with a jumping clear — although he did go through the flag at the tricky corner at fence 32. Many riders went long here, including William on all 3 of his rides.

British rider Sarah Bullimore excelled herself today and holds 7th with the Gillespies’ Valentino V and 16th on My Last One.

Phillip Dutton sits 4th on Mr Medicott for the USA.

“He’s a little bit aggressive at the beginning of the course, so I tried to let him run himself deep and back himself off,” said Phillip, who has been riding the horse since July. “But it was as enjoyable as it can be.”

The home side’s Maxime Livio, a 26-year-old making his 4-star debut, lies 5th on Cathar De Gamel.

“I don’t have any experience of a cross-country as long as this and I thought he’d tire earlier, but he just asked me to wait after the last water jump and then he was fine,” he said.

Log back on tomorrow for a final update from Pau. Full report in H&H out this Thursday, 31 October. 

Pau CCI4* 2013 results after cross-country

1. William Fox-Pitt on Seacookie TSF (GBR) 41.5

2. William Fox-Pitt on Cool Mountain (GBR) 42.2

3. William Fox-Pitt on Neuf Des Coeurs (GBR) 43.2

4. Phillip Dutton on Mr Medicott (USA) 44.6

5. Maxime Livio on Cathar De Gamel (FRA) 46

6. Andrew Nicholson on Mr Cruise Control (NZL) 46.1

Full results and times from Pau