In a close finish on the final day at Burghley Horse Trials, William Fox-Pitt and Highland Lad’s clear show jumping round leads a clean sweep for British riders
In the hottest of Burghley finals, it took the coolest rider, William Fox-Pitt, to rise through the ranks and take his second Burghley title with a clear show jumping round on the relatively inexperienced Highland Lad.
Lying fourth after cross-country, William was first aided by the departure at the final horse inspection of the overnight leader, Andrew Nicholson, with a lame New York.
This left Polly Stockton in the lead – “my worst nightmare” – on the notoriously bad show jumper Word For Word, on whom she wrought a miracle to have only one rail down and finish second, her best ever four-star result.
Just behind, Leslie Law had the terrible disappointment of a last fence down on Shear L’Eauto drop to fifth.
Mary King show jumped clear on King Solomon to take third, some consolation for missing the World Games on this horse due to a freak incident at Badminton where his heart fibrilatted.
The 1979 winner Andrew Hoy had his best result since then, fourth on Mr Pracatan, also with a clear round.
Dressage leader Pippa Funnell clawed back a couple of places on Primmore’s Pride, sixth.
Highland Lad, a nine-year-oldIrish-bred bay gelding by Taldi, is owned by Carole Hudson and was previously ridden by Owen Moore.
With William, who has had the horse for 18 months, he was sixth at Bramham in June and 15th at Blenheim last year.
“It’s beyond my wildest dreams with this horse. He is an out and out jumper, but a worrier and this was a big ask for him. I didn’t think he was mentally ready.”
William was also seventh on Moon Man, the horse on whom he thought he had a greater chance, but who had two show jumps down.
Comparing his win to that of eight years ago aboard Chaka, William said: “Then I knew I had a chance on an experienced and talented horse; this time I was on a talented but inexperienced horse, so I never even thought about it.”
Jeanette Brakewell was the only other rider to have success on two horses, finishing eighth and ninth on The Busker and Plantagenet Of Rushall.
The latter is a notoriously difficult show jumper and was the only horse to finish on his dressage score.
The overall result was a triumph for Britain, with members of the forthcoming World Equestrian Games squad filling seven of the top nine places.
“Not a Kiwi in sight!” William Fox-Pitt could not resist saying, a reference to last year’s New Zealand whitewash and their winning of the trophy five years running.
Matthew Wright, a member of Britain’s Young Rider squad for the forthcoming Europeans, finished 30th and best under-25 rider – in fact the youngest rider in the field – on a horse he only started riding a month ago.
Final results 1, William Fox-Pitt (Highland Lad, GBR) 51.81; 2, Polly Stockton (Word For Word, GBR) 52.8; 3, King Solomon lll (Mary King, GBR) 52.8; 4, Andrew Hoy (Mr Pracatan, AUS) 53.61; 5, Leslie Law (Shear L’Eau, GBR) 54.8; 6, Pippa Funnell (Primmore’s Pride, GBR) 59.01; 7, William Fox-Pitt (Moon Man, GBR) 60.41; 8, Jeanette Brakewell (The Busker, GBR) 62.6; 9, Jeanette Brakewell (Plantaganet Of Rushall) 63.41; 10, Bill Levett (Time Will Tell Vl, AUS) 67.4; 11, Matt Ryan (Balmoral Mr Slinky, AUS) 68.21; 12, Comanche (James Robinson, GBR) 71.21.
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To read Friday’s Burghley report click here
To read Thursday’s Burghley report click here
Keep in touch with the latest news with our daily online reports from Burghley, plus see full report with pictures in next week’s Horse & Hound (5 September), plus expert opinion and review of this great event in the October issue of Eventing magazine