Andrew Nicholson produced an outstanding display of cross-country riding at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials to head the leader board overnight. Riding Avebury, he produced the fastest round of the day to add just 5.6 time penalties to his dressage score of 40.5.
Andrew said: “Normally I scorch him straight out of the start box, but this time I started a bit quieter and tried to get into a nice rhythm first. But he feels best when I ‘ride him like I’ve stole him’. When I asked him to pick up the pace, he felt very happy doing it.”
In second is Sam Griffiths riding Happy Times, who was held on the course twice during his round. The Australian partnership produced the third fastest round for 9.6 time penalties and a final score of 49.8.
“When I set out on course, I didn’t know how influential the time was going to be,” explained Sam. “I was having a super ride until I got held. It gave my horse a breather, but it also really broke my rhythm. Luckily my horse is a great galloper so I just tried to go as fast as I could.”
Oliver Townend has leapt up from equal 12th after dressage to third. He survived a hairy moment at the Land Rover Trout Hatchery when Armada left a leg at the log drop, but Oliver sat tight and they completed without mishap. Having been held on course at the fence before the Cottesmore Leap, Armada proceeded to make the massive 1.45m high by 3m wide fence look like a Pony Club brush fence.
Dressage leaders Jock Paget and Clifton Promise have dropped to fourth after collecting 16.4 time penalties in a smooth round. Izzy Taylor rode very positively on KBIS Briarlands Matilda for fifth.
William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero sit sixth after being held on course as a result of Aoife Clarke’s fall from Vaguely North at the Stamford Station. William added 20.8 time penalties to his dressage score.
There were a number of holds on course during the day due to falls and frangible pins being triggered, although only two riders received 21pens for breaking pins. There were five horse falls with 11 riders eliminated and nine combinations retiring on course with 41 of the 63 starters completing the course.
Three riders were taken to hospital after suffering falls. Gina Ruck, who fell at fence 23, broke her ankle. Natalie Blundell, who fell at the planet at fence 7a, was suspected to have a broken leg. Neil Spratt, who had a nasty fall at fence 18b with Upleadon, was taken to hospital for a check-up.
Sadly Sara Squires’ ride Orto was put down after seriously injuring his stifle when hitting the rail at the Rolex Combination (fence 19a).
Carolyn Ryan-Bell’s long-time campaigner Rathmoyle King pulled up lame at fence 10 and had to be taken off the course in a horse ambulance. At the time of this report there was no further update available on his condition.
The Lord Burghley Hurdles at fence four was the most influential on the course, with a number of horses taking a look at the water tray underneath the first. Some riders fell foul of trying to take the inside line between the elements a and b, resulting in run outs. Tim Price was the only rider to fall at this fence. He got tipped off Ringwood Sky Boy when he caught a leg.
Course designer Mark Phillips admitted that he had not expected the time to be so influential, but was not surprised by the problems at fence four.
“Although it caught more riders than I expected, I think some riders were tempted to get greedy by turning up very short, which surprised their horses. The best line was that ridden by Andrew [Nicholson] where he kept the flow, which was also less tiring for his horse.”
For news from the final horse inspection, plus H&H Live for all the showjumping action as it happens, log back on to HorseandHound.co.uk tomorrow. Full report from Burghley Horse Trials in Horse & Hound magazine, out on 11 September, 2014.