William Fox-Pitt, who has won Bramham five times already, is in first and second place after dressage in the CCI*** class at the Equi-Trek-sponsored event.
He leads on the stallion Chilli Morning, on whom he has had the ride for just two months, with a mark of 39.2. His other horse, Avoca Alibi, is second on 42.8.
“I’m delighted – he did a lovely test,” said William. “We’re just getting to know each other, so it’s hard to say until tomorrow [cross-country day] how our relationship is progressing – it will be a big test.
“It’s a shame it’s not a dressage competition!”
After Thursday’s torrential rain, the dressage arenas were quite cut up today, but Chilli Morning put his best foot forward and didn’t let the mud bother him.
“The track will be very demanding and tiring tomorrow and they perhaps need to create a couple of options at some of the fences, but it’s a super course, though,” said William.
New Zealand’s Lucy Jackson is in a strong position, lying third in the CCI*** behind William with Willy Do on a score of 45.6, just 0.2pen ahead of France’s Sylvain Davesne (Oregon Du Coty).
William is also second in the CIC*** on Neuf Des Cours. He and leader Laura Collett (Rayef) scored the only marks in the 30s – Laura collected 37.5 and William 38.7.
Third behind them are Andrew Nicholson and Avebury and Sarah Cohen and Treason, both on a mark of 40.5. Lucy Jackson is fifth with 41.1 on Animator II.
Another Kiwi, 23-year-old Lizzie Brown, tops the Bishop Burton College under-25 CCI*** with Henton Attorney General on a score of 39.
Lizzie, who moved over from New Zealand last autumn and who rents a yard near Marlborough in Wiltshire, said: “He felt really with me and everything went to plan, which it doesn’t always!”
She is looking forward to the cross-country, which she described as “long and tough, but beautifully designed by Ian Stark.”
China’s Alex Hua Tian is second on Secret Picnic. Alex scored 42.8, which leaves him ahead of Tabitha Baird (Enoch, 44.8) and Laura Collett (Noble Bestman, 45).
CCI*** top 10
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) on Chilli Morning, 39.2
2 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) on Avoca Alibi, 42.8
3 Lucy Jackson (NZL) on Willy Do, 45.6
4 Sylvain Davesne (FRA) on Oregon Du Coty, 45.8
5 Clea Phillipps (GBR) on Lead The Way, 46.2
=6 Lucy Wiegersma (GBR) on Granntevka Prince, 46.6
=6 Sam Griffiths (AUS) on Happy Times, 46.6
8 Sebastien Cavaillon (FRA) on Only One Du Reverdy, 46.8
=9 Richard Jones (GBR) on Highland Ford, 47.2
=9 Sam Griffiths (AUS) on Paulank Brockagh, 47.2
1 Lizzie Brown (NZL) on Henton Attorney General, 39
2 Alex Hua Tian (CHN) on Secret Picnic, 42.8
3 Tabitha Baird (GBR) on Enoch, 44.8
4 Laura Collett (GBR) on Noble Bestman, 45
5 Astier Nicolas (FRA) on Piaf De Bnville, 47.2
6 Emily Parker (GBR) on Treefers, 47.6
7 Aaron Millar (GBR) on Allercombe Ellie, 48.8
8 Paul Sims (GBR) on Glengarnock, 49.2
9 Orlane Hillereau (FRA) on Naome De Glaine, 51.8
10 Harry Dzenis (GBR) on Xam, 52.8
1 Laura Collett (GBR) on Rayef, 37.5
2 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) on Neuf Des Cours, 38.7
=3 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) on Avebury, 40.5
=3 Sarah Cohen (GBR) on Treason, 40.5
5 Lucy Jackson (NZL) on Animator II, 41.1
6 Karin Donckers (BEL) on Extebaria Van Het Veradorf, 41.4
7 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) on Nereo, 42
8 Kristina Cook (GBR) on Miners Frolic, 42.6
9 Marc Rigouts (BEL) on Dunkas A, 42.9
10 Zara Phillips (GBR) on High Kingdom, 43.2