Fox-Pitt holds fragile lead

  • William Fox-Pitt has edged into pole position at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials following an exciting second dressage day. Fox-Pitt and the liver chestnut Ballincoola produced an accurate, eye-catching test, scoring a total of 42.4pen.

    “He (Ballincoola) did his best and I couldn’t be happier with him”, Fox-Pitt told Burghley Radio as he left the arena. The pair had help prior to the event from Lizzie Murray (nee Lorriston-Clarke). “It’s a tricky test and the marks aren’t quite as low as they used to be,” said Fox-Pitt, “The movements come thick and fast”. But his mark is evidence that careful preparation has paid off: “He (Ballincoola) can be quite fractious and so I was pleased with him today” Fox-Pitt explained.

    But all is still to play for as America’s Kim Severson lies just 0.4pen behind. Severson and Winsome Adante were the lunchtime leaders having produced a calm and responsive test. Although this is the first time the pair have appeared at Burghley, they have an impressive track record having won the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event a record three times in the last four years as well as an individual silver medal at the Athens Olympics. In his capacity of Chef d’Equipe for the American team, Captain Mark Phillips helped Severson before the dressage. “He (Winsome Adante) was a little bit naughty yesterday,” said Severson, “But on that horse you can generally feel quite confident when you enter the ring”.

    Andrew Nicholson with the striking Lord Killinghurst is in third position on a score of 44.6pen having ridden a positive and extravagant test. Interestingly the pair finished third at Burghley in 2003 and 2004 so will be no doubt looking to move up the leaderboard this year.

    Overnight leader Ruth Edge (Muschamp Impala) has moved into fourth position with her score of 45.9 and despite forgetting the test in one place, Britain’s Mary King rode an exceptional test on Call Again Cavalier to take fifth position. King and Call Again Cavalier are a relatively new partnership and the test became progressively more relaxed finishing with wonderful uphill canter work.

    “Oh dear, I went wrong again!,” King exclaimed on Burghley Radio immediately afterwards, “Notice its all the older riders that do it”. But King was pleased with Call Again Cavalier, “He kept much more forward than he did at Badminton,” she told Burghley Radio, “And he’s very kind to me in the changes”.

    Another Brit, Tina Cook rode a consistent, rhythmic test on Captain Christy to take sixth position at the end of day two. “He (Captain Christy) has been a really good boy. Dressage is his weakest phase and sometimes he can misbehave quite badly,” Cook told Radio Burghley afterwards. When asked whether she felt confident about tomorrow’s cross country Cook was non-committal: “I can make silly mistakes like falling off at Badminton so who knows!” she said.

    British Young Rider Harry Meade produced a confident test on Midnight Dazzler. Meade’s father Richard Meade has won Burghley in the past and was watching as his son entered the arena. Having had stitches in his ear following an accident last week, Meade opted against removing his hat at the end of the test which scored a noteworthy 55 pen.

    With the dressage phase over and Captain Mark Phillips’ challenging course to look forward to tomorrow, riders have been walking the cross country for a second time this afternoon. “It is looking a little more do-able than it did the first time round”, said Kim Severson. William Fox-Pitt is also confident, “I feel very positive. Its big, its bold and its very fair”, he commented, “There are questions all the way through. Having to gallop up the Leaf Pit 100 metres from the finish is tough”.

    For a full list of results visit http://www.bdwp.co.uk/bur/05

    * Images courtesy of Burghley

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