William Fox-Pitt excelled in the cross country phase of Saumur CCI*** this weekend to add victory there to his list of successes.
German rider Ingrid Klimke looked set to dominate the leaderboard after a fantastic performance in the dressage on both of her rides. She was leading on Robinson’s Concord and in second place on Sleep Late going into the cross country on Saturday morning. Frenchman Jean Teulere had also performed well in the dressage, and lay in third place ahead of William Fox-Pitt.
But the cross-country phase had been widely expected to change the placings, and the demanding track lived up to expectations. Hard ground and 30 gruelling fences took their toll on horses and riders alike, and William Fox-Pitt and Tom Cruise (pictured) were the only combination to complete clear, without incurring any time penalties.
“Tom was very well prepared, and he is very quick, but I didn’t think before the cross-country that we would get back inside the time,” William explained.
Meanwhile, Ingrid Klimke had a huge upset at the second of the water complexes when she attempted to take the quick route, which knocked her down to 32nd:
“I am obviously disappointed about what happened to Robinson’s Concord. Basically, at the second of the two waters, I wanted to go straight. The first few had jumped it well, and Robinson was going brilliantly, so I took my chance over the enormous corner, and we had two refusals.”
She wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice, however, and with her second horse Sleep Late, she opted for the long route, incurring 12 time penalties overall on the cross country, but she stayed in second place as other cross-country scores were littered with time faults. Jean Teulere dropped well down the placings after one refusal, which the rider admitted “was all his fault”.
Sunday’s final phase produced an unusual amount of clear rounds, so that the rankings were little changed, although Australian Bill Levett, had a total of six fences down and 1 time penalty, knocking him down 17 places from 7th to 24th. William Fox-Pitt kept a clean sheet to finish on 47.0, well clear of his nearest rival Ingrid Klimke on 54.8.
Belgium’s Karin Donckers was delighted by both of her horses’ performances. She finished in third place on Nikita and fourth on Palmyra, having incurred just a few time penalties on each horse across country.
Best of the rest of the British included youngster Matthew Wright, who followed in the wake of a brilliant Badminton to finish 9th on Park Pilot and 15th on Cermont. Rebecca Gibbs made up for her disappointment at Badminton, when conditions forced her to withdraw before phase D of the cross-country. The quicker going in Saumur was to her liking and she finished in 11th.
Tom Cruise is an Olympic short-listed horse, and his performance here will put him in the spotlight should anything happen to Tamarillo between now and August. William is confident about the horse’s ability, but has other plans in mind should nothing untoward happen:
“Tom is one of my reserve horses for Athens, and although he may not be up to standard yet, I think he definitely will be by August. Having said that, I would prefer to take him to Burghley in September, as I think he could do very well there.”
Final Individual Results at Saumur CCI***
1. Tom Cruise (William Fox-Pitt) 47.0
2. Sleep Late (Ingrid Klimke GER) 54.8
3. Nikita (Karin Donckers BEL) 56.8
4. Palmyra (Karin Donckers BEL) 57.8
5. Better I Do It (Abigail Lufkin USA) 58.4
6. Daguet du Rochau Hn (Gilles Pons FR) 58.6
1. Great Britain 192.6
Tom Cruise II (William Fox-Pitt) 47.0
Park Pilot (Matthew Wright) 65.6
Sky Sport (Mary King) 80.0
2. France 202.0
Daguet du Rochau (Gilles Pons) 58.6
Gipsy de Volsin Mili (Gilles Viricel) 61.8
Espoir de la Mare Eco (Jean Teulere) 81.6
3. Belgium 262.0
Mr Mullins (Carl Bouckaert) 68.0
Mr Noppus (Hendrik Degros) 74.4
Sprightly (Dolf Desmedt) 119.6