Riding last year’s winner, Christopher Stone’s Chilli Morning, William finished a comfortable 7sec inside the 10min 37sec optimum time to take the top spot.
There was a question mark over the stallion’s form after his stop at Kentucky, but today Chilli answered every question.
“He felt up for it today,” confirmed William. “After Kentucky I had a good think about what I needed to do. I didn’t ride him in the right way in Kentucky — he was too relaxed, too calm. He goes better when I’m a bit punchier. It might not be how I like to ride him, but sometimes you have to ride them their way.”
Mark Todd moved up from fifth to second with a penalty-free round on Leonidas II, owned by Diane Brunsden and Peter Cattell.
“I’m really pleased with him — he’s a relatively young horse and he’s improving all the time,” said Mark of the nine-year-old.
France’s Mathieu Lemoine also rose three places, from sixth to third with Quickness. He had a scary moment when the horse knelt on the rail going into the Woodheads Seeds Hollow, but the frangible pin broke and the log dropped, letting him continue without penalty.
Evans holds her lead
Dani Evans retained top spot in the Bishop Burton under-25 CCI3* after a penalty-free round on her young rider European bronze medallist Raphael II, who belongs to Vanessa Watson.
“I had a really good ride,” said the CCI3* debutant. “I didn’t know if he would gallop around as well as he did because he’s foreign, but he was well inside the time.”
Second-placed Tom McEwen also held his spot with last year’s Houghton CCI2* winner Diesel, who he says is “either very calm or a lunatic”.
Laura Collett sits third overnight with Allora — her most exciting moment was falling off in the warm-up just 9min before her start time.
“She jumped the fence fine and fell over on landing,” said Laura. “But as soon as we went out she was awesome.”
Troublesome fence 20
Ian Stark’s cross-country tracks caused plenty of problems in all classes today. Among those penalised was the CCI3* dressage leader Pippa Funnell, who had a run-out at fence 20 — a corner which formed the first element of the Speedi-Beet ’40’ fence — with Or Noir De La Loge.
Pippa was one of nine in her class to fault here. Maxime Livio, third after dressage on the grey Cathar De Gamel, and William Fox-Pitt’s first ride (Running Order, seventh after dressage) were also victims of the obstacle.
Although the jumps were influential, the fast ground helped to make the time relatively easy to achieve in the CCI classes, with 22 inside it between the two sections.
There were 18 falls across the three classes and some riders required medical attention (full details not yet available, but it is believed there were no serious injuries). There were some short holds — caused by frangible pins being broken as well as injuries — but no long delays.
Log back on tomorrow for final reports of the CCI classes. Full report of Bramham in H&H this Thursday (13 June).