Call it a good sense of timing. William Fox-Pitt managed to make it back from the three-week suspension he got at Gatcombe just in time to win the CCI*** at Boekelo, in The Netherlands, with his Bramham winner, Mr Dumbledore (pictured).
Britain was immediately off to an auspicious start at the Dutch event, with Ruth Edge and Two Thyme, Pippa Funnell and Walk on Star and Fox-Pitt and Mr Dumbledore landing first, third and fourth place in dressage. Clayton Fredericks and Nullabor provided an Australian interlude in second place.
But the picture changed dramatically after the cross-country. Fox-Pitt had an excellent round and jumped to first place on his dressage score. Edge disappeared from the top end of the leaderboard, while Fredericks rode a better cross-country round with his other mount — Master Felix—than with his dressage leader. Their places at the top were nabbed by Germany’s Andreas Dibowoski and FHR Little Lemon B, who were second, and Lucy Wiegersma and In the Purple, who were third. Funnell, who had ended 15th in the cross-country phase, clung to fourth place with Walk on Star.
Another shake-up was to take place in the show jumping round — but it didn’t touch the top combinations. Fox-Pitt and Mr Dumbledore breezed through the course to finish in first place on his dressage score of 47.20pen. Dibowski also jumped clear and ended second at 49.20pen.
“William pretty much dominated the season,” says Kirsty Grant from British Eventing. “He was second at Badminton, won a one-two at Bramham, was our Premier League inaugural champion, won the British open title and Burghley, and was second and won the team gold at the Europeans. Add to it that he has got a baby boy — and it was a pretty full year for him!”
Britain went close to getting another rider in the top three, but the end of the show jumping round saw Wiegersma slide from third to sixth place, while Funnell went down to eighth place. This opened up the way for France’s Nicolas Touzaint, who conquered the third and fourth spot aboard Joker d’Helby and Hethi Bey respectively.
The French rider also spearheaded his squad onto winning the team competition. Although there were a lot more British than French riders in the first 20 places, only Fox-Pitt and Funnell were part of the British team. The other two team members — Francis Whittington with Spin Doctor and Edge — ended in 56th and 65th place. France, by contrast, had three out of four team members — Touzaint, Karim Florent Laghouag and Jean-Renaud Adde — in the top 20. This allowed them to bring home the team title with a total score of 192.90. Britain was second with a combined score of 208.60, followed by Germany with 233.60.
“It only takes a couple of results and you are second rather than first, but that’s eventing for you,” says Grant. “Still, we can’t complain too much. It’s nice to see so many British riders doing so well.”