William Fox-Pitt will not defend the trophy he won last year at Pau CCI4* after neither of his top-five placed horses completed the cross-country in France today (25 October, 2014).

Instead, Germany’s Ingrid Klimke (pictured top) — who shared the dressage lead with William (Parklane Hawk) — stormed round a troublesome cross-country track on Horseware Hale Bob to retain first place.

It’s his first year at four-star, so I was really proud of him,” said Ingrid, who added just 0.8 time-faults to her 39.3 dressage. “It was a challenging course with lots of chances to run out, but he was clever and smooth.

“He’s a great showjumper and I’ve heard the course here is usually big, which suits us, so I’m going to have a party tonight,” added Ingrid, who has a fence in hand over Ireland’s Joseph Murphy.

William retired before fence six with his first ride, the 2013 winner Seacookie TSF, as he “wasn’t happy on the hard ground”. He later withdrew Parklane Hawk for the same reason.

“It’s a shame, but it’s too hard,” he said. “They [organisers] have worked on some bits but not others. I’m saving [my horses] for another day — they are both fine.

Ireland on top form

ELECTRIC CRUISE_Pau14pn_48931Joseph Murphy (pictured right on Electric Cruise) has taken over William’s mantle, finishing cross-country with two horses in the top four.

“Tomorrow’s another day, though, and I’ll treat it like a different competition,” said Joseph, who is bidding to become the first Irishman since 1965 to win a four-star.

He lies in second on 46.3 with Electric Cruise, just ahead of Germany’s Andreas Dibowski (FRH Butts Avedon) courtesy of the latter’s time-faults, after producing the only clear inside the time.

I was very happy with the way my horse locked on to the fences and helped me out,” said Joseph, who was last on course with the Cruising-sired 13-year-old. “At this level it’s a two-way thing, and both of us had to work, but neither horse had any worrying moments.”

Joseph’s pathfinder, Sportsfield Othello, made the course look deceptively easy for 2.4 time-faults. It was another 25min before another rider made it through the finish.

Disappointment for Britain

Meanwhile, the Brits were not having much fun. Pippa Funnell fell foul of the second corner at fence 4B on Mirage D’Elle, Willa Newton fell at the third water, Ben Way at 20 and Victoria Madsden only made it to fence three. Pippa then had an unlucky second ride on eighth-placed Redesigned, who was going beautifully when he tipped her out of the saddle at the second of a double of arrowheads two-thirds of the way round.

In fact, of the 12 British combinations, just one went clearLawrence Hunt on Wie Donna’s Niieuwmoed (19th). But several put up decent 20pen performances, especially four-star debutants West Side (Francis Whittington) and Whitson (Louise Harwood).

ONE TWO MANY_Pau14pn_48945CNicola Wilson — fourth after dressage on another four-star first-timer, One Two Many (pictured right) — wound up best of the Brits after cross-country despite a run-out. She faulted at the “Fish” in the third water (25C), but was immaculate elsewhere and slotted into 10th on 72.8. She is also currently second on her promising new ride Bulana in the CIC2*.

Arnoid Boiteau produced the best round for the hosts, riding Quoriano ‘Ene HN’. His fast clear moved him up from 17th after dressage to fifth on 56.8.

Pau Horse Trials cross-country results

View the results