Britain’s Oliver Townend held on to his dressage lead in the CCI**** at Pau in France, completing the cross-country with just 0.8 time-faults on Carousel Quest for a score of 43.3.
He has a show jump in hand over second-placed Dirk Schrade, who climbed up from fifth with an equally speedy round on King Artus for Germany.
Oliver also clinched victory in the HSBC FEI Classics competition, winning $150,000. When William Fox-Pitt had a run-out late on with Macchiato, no one could overtake Oliver in the series where points were accumulated at the season’s four-star events.
“It was difficult going out round a four-star knowing I had won the HSBC FEI Classics — going to fence two I had to tell myself to shut up and concentrate,” joked Oliver.
Germany has a second rider in the top five, as Andreas Dibowski lies in third place on Euroridings Butts Leon. The pair picked up 4.8 time-penalties, completing the cross-country phase on 48.6.
French rider Pascal Leroy had a storming round on the nine-year-old Minos De Petra to finish one second over the time and rise from 10th to fifth with 50.1.
Five marks behind, in sixth place, is Lucy Wiegersma, who guided Granntevka Prince round his first four-star with 8.4 time-faults.
Lucy is half a mark ahead of France’s highly experienced Jean Teulere, sixth after cross-country — a climb of 11 places — on Matelot Du Grand Val.
The only rider to get the time round Pierre Michelet’s technical, tightly-roped track was young French four-star debutante Gwendolen Fer, riding the Selle Francais Leria Du Ter. She lies in eighth place, one ahead of Rodolphe Scherer and Fairfax.
Susanna Bordone, third after dressage on Blue Moss and sixth on Ava, only now has the latter in ninth place as Blue Moss was eliminated for three refusals round the course.
Fourth-placed Avebury and Andrew Nicholson also didn’t make it home. The lovely nine-year-old grey appeared to trip up and breast the step out of the third water, depositing Andrew on the ground towards the end of a good round.
Ireland’s Mark Kyle very nearly achieved a remarkable three clear rounds in one afternoon of four-star cross-country, but Step In Time, his third ride in the hot French sunshine, ran out at a skinny brush just two fences from home.
Pau results after cross-country
1 Oliver Townend on Carousel Quest (GBR) 43.3
2 Dirk Schrade on King Artus (GER) 47.5
3 Andreas Dibowski on Euroridings Butts Leon (GER) 48.6
4 Pascal Leroy on Minos De Petra (FRA) 50.1
5 Lucy Wiegersma on Granntevka Prince (GBR) 55.9
6 Jean Teulere on Matelot Du Grand Val (FRA) 56.4
7 Rodolphe Scherer on Fairfax (FRA) 63
8 Gwendolen Fer on Leria Du Ter (FRA) 64.2
9 Susanna Bordone on Ava (ITA) 64.7
10 Joe Meyer on Clifton Lush (NZL) 64.8