Francis Whittington’s reputation as one of the best cross-country riders on the eventing circuit was solidified when he won the FEI World Cup qualifier at Burnham Market on Sir Percival lll.
Francis was the only rider in the star-studded 39-strong field to achieve the optimum time of 6.46m across country. He finished 9sec inside the time to rise from fifth place after dressage to take the lead. A clear show jumping performance saw him win with a fence in hand on 44.4. He was the only rider in the field to finish on his dressage score.
“The horse went fantastically well today and it’s amazing to beat such a class field,” said Francis. “This was the best dressage test we’ve ever done, but we have been working hard on this all winter. I’ve also been practising setting him up for fences so that he doesn’t waste any time.”
To emphasise the quality of the competition, Ruth Edge finished second on 2007 Luhmuhlen winner, Two Thyme (49.6), and reigning European silver medallists Mary King and Call Again Cavalier were third (49.7), ahead of the 2007 Burghley winners, William Fox-Pitt and Parkmore Ed (51).
Other star names in action included Tamarillo, who finished eighth with William Fox-Pitt; Pippa Funnell and Ensign, who finished fifth on 51.3; and Jeanette Brakewell with Over To You, who were 19th after a steady cross-country round.
After three competitions in the FEI World Cup series, Clift Montgomery (USA), Michael Jung (GER) and Francis Whittington (GBR) lead the rankings with 100 points apiece.
Don’t miss H&H’s full report from Burnham Market in this Thursday’s magazine (3 April, ’08)