Mary was delighted with the relaxation shown by Gillian Jonas’s white-faced chestnut Apache Sauce, but was left ruing a “blond moment” at the end of the test — although she admitted it may have actually resulted in a better mark.
“I missed a movement out and carried on to the finish and Marilyn Payne [ground jury member at E] got out of the hut and told me I’d missed the serpentine,” said Mary. “I did that then re-rode the last changes and final centreline and he did them better than the first time, so maybe it worked to my advantage.”
Mary is on a score of 44.8, 2pen ahead of William Fox-Pitt — who also incurred technical penalties for not starting within 45sec of the bell ringing on 2008 Luhmühlen winner Macchiato.
“I thought I had a bit more time, but I’ve done it enough times so I should know,” grinned William. “People are sending me messages, asking why Mary and I have both got stars by our names [on the score sheet], and I say, ‘Don’t ask!’”
Joining these experienced riders at the top of the leader board is Laura Collett, who showed on her four-star debut that she can cut it with the best, as she has at every stage of her career. The former junior and young rider European champion guided the former M-J Tumbridge and Andrew Nicholson ride Ginger May Killinghurst to a score of 47 and third place.
“I was really pleased with it all,” said Laura, who is the youngest British rider here having turned 21 on Tuesday. “She jogged in the extended walk and the changes could have been more exuberant, but she stayed soft and everything was on the markers.”
Laura has had “major braking issues” across country with the chestnut mare, and has been lent a running gag with two mouthpieces and Kineton noseband by Lucy Wiegersma for the occasion.
“I jumped 11 fences at Hatherleigh and it seemed to work so I’m hoping it still works on Saturday,” said Laura, who is planning to take the long route at the first corner at the Land Rover Dairy Farm (fence 17) “to give myself more chance of getting round”.
Many will be delighted to see Pippa Funnell in fourth place on Mirage D’Elle on her first ride at Burghley since 2004.
Listen to rider interviews
Don’t forget to buy H&H next Thursday for our 10-page Burghley special report, including comment from cross-country course-designer Mark Phillips.
Replay H&H’s live written coverage of today’s action, with expert comment by former British dressage team member Anna Ross Davies.
RESULTS AFTER FIRST DAY OF DRESSAGE
1.Mary King on Apache Sauce (GB) 44.8
2.William Fox-Pitt on Macchiato (GB) 46.8
3.Laura Collett on Ginger May Killinghurst (GB) 47
4.Pippa Funnell on Mirage D’Elle (GB) 48.2
5.Geoff Curran on The Jump Jet (IRL) 48.8
6.James Robinson on Comanche (GB) 49