William Fox-Pitt (pictured) successfully defended the British Novice Championship title this afternoon at Gatcombe.

Riding the Hon Mrs Teresa Stopford-Sackville’s Cool Mountain, William was the only rider to finish inside the cross-country optimum time.

“I came here thinking he’d be very competitive, but I didn’t think I’d win after a 32.4 dressage,” admitted William afterwards. “But he’s ultra consistent in all three phases — I think he’s a top class horse to aim for Le Lion d’Angers [seven-year-old championships].”

Andrew Nicholson ended up on the same score with Rosemary Barlow’s Tattersalls CCI* winner Avebury, but was demoted to second because he was further from the optimum time. This grey has had eight top three placings this year from 10 starts and is also aimed at Le Lion.

Lucy Wiegersma was third with last year’s PAVO six-year-old champion, Geraldine Mills’s Granntevka Prince.

Tina Cook won the first CIC*** section on the promising nine-year-old Miners Frolic, a former Burghley Young Event Horse champion.

“I’ve produced him carefully to be a top horse,” said Tina. “I feel he is an Olympic horse one day and the horse to put me back on teams.”

Daisy Dick took the other CIC*** on last year’s Blenheim winner Springbok IV.

Mary King leads the British Open Championships after dressage, having scored 41.3 on her team horse Call Again Cavalier.

Polly Stockton is at the head of the leaderboard in the British Intermediate Championships on Westwood Poser, with a few more to do dressage tomorrow.

Full report from Gatcombe, plus William Fox-Pitt’s comment, in next week’s Horse & Hound (9 August).

For more information on visiting the Festival of British Eventing visit www.gatcombe-horse.co.uk