So, it’s the end of another cross-country day at Burghley. In the press tent photographers are looking at pictures on laptops, website writers are frantically uploading, while a newspaper journalist (who is also a former top rider) is phoning through her copy next to me.
The tension of this morning is gone. In the press cabin, it was palpable as the first riders went round — especially as we saw two of the first five fall — and I bet it was nerve-racking in the stables.
Outside now, riders will be inspecting their charges, congratulating and commiserating. Tired spectators are heading to their cars.
No one could complain about a lack of action today — even some of those who had good rounds had interesting moments, with William Fox-Pitt displaying a rare lack of balance when Ballincoola rather crawled through the Invesco Options rail to ditch (view this fence).
And dressage leader Clayton Fredericks had to sit tight when Nullabor put his front legs all over the rail into Capability’s Cutting (view this fence). We asked him what he thought at the time — his answer was succinct: “Sit up”.
Perhaps the only problem from a spectator point of view was infrequent competitors. I spoke to a couple of people who were out on the ground and they said near the end of the course there were long pauses between competitors. As nearly a third of starters didn’t get round, that’s not surprising.
Meanwhile, I’ll be interested to find out how many of you internet-savvy enthusiasts watched live-streaming online. We had the commentary — from Alice Fox-Pitt, Ian Stark, David O’Connor and Tina Cook — in the press cabin, and it sounded knowledgeable and amusing.
Now that all of today’s flyers and falls have been reduced to a tidy results sheet, we have the prospect of a thrilling show jumping phase tomorrow. Andrew Nicholson has not a fence in hand over the second-, third- and fourth-placed competitors.
Andrew rides Lord Killinghurst, who has been third here three times, but has not show jumped clear on any of those occasions. If he pulls it off, it will be the crowning moment for a brilliantly consistent horse coming to the end of his career.