Andrew Hoy suffered misery in Athens last month, both on his own account, with a fall during the cross-country, and on his wife, Bettina’s account, during the medal furore. But he has come to Burghley determined to set the record straight, and that is precisely what he did today.
He was sixth to go this morning with Moon Fleet, and produced an extraordinarily well-judged round, the fastest of the day as it turned out, to add just 4 penalties to his overnight score, finishing on 48.4 going into the show-jumping.
He was sixth from last to go on his second ride of the day, Master Monarch, and while he will have benefited hugely from the experience of his ride this morning, the endless drama out on the course can have done little to calm any rider’s fears. But Hoy was apparently unfazed.
“I rode the same lines on my second horse as I had done on the first,” he explained, after riding the second fastest round of the day on Master Monarch. “but it was quite coincidental that the two rounds were so close. It wasn’t so much a question of speed as getting into a proper rhythm”.
The ground, combined with what Leslie Law described yesterday as a “meaty” course, proved the downfall of almost half of the riders. Pippa Funnell, Jeanette Brakewell, Marie Ryan, Rodney Powell and Polly Stockton were among those who retired, while there were a further 17 fallers among the 39 non-finishers.
“The going has been a concern over the past two weeks”, commented Burghley Director Andrew Tulloch, “although it has held up well.” The opinion from some of the riders wasn’t quite as straightforward with several mentioning that the steeplechase, which has had its problems in the past, had taken its toll, and that the second half of the cross country course had proved quite energy-sapping.
New Zealander Andrew Nicholson was the only rider apart from Hoy to finish on both his rides of the day. In spite of a somewhat unsatisfactory dressage test on Mr Smiffy yesterday, just 8.8 time penalties this morning left them in eighth place, while a spectacular performance on Lord Killinghurst, on whom he had been in second overnight, meant that he kept victory within his sights.
This all in spite of being held for more than half an hour on the course, following a crashing fall at the Partnership Card Crossing when Primitive Streak somersaulted over the final element, landing heavily on top of Caroline Pratt, who was rushed off in an air ambulance in a critical condition.
Bumble Thomas and The Psephologist were another combination to suffer from this long hold up, as were Jeanette Brakewell and Burley Wood. The latter retired after one or two problems which were no doubt because their rhythm was interrupted. Bumble however, ever-professional, rode a lovely round, the third fastest of the day, finishing in a very respectable fourth place going into tomorrow’s final phase.
Ballincoola had been looking fabulous under William Fox-Pitt until the Partnership Card Crossing – a fence which accounted for ten combinations today – when the horse ran out of steam at the final element.
Britain’s eventing wonder woman Pippa Funnell didn’t look settled at any stage on Cornerman, nearly coming a-cropper at the very upright Witch’s Broomstick gate, and eventually retiring at the bounce into the Lower Trout Hatchery.
Results after the cross-country at Burghley
1. Moon Fleet (Andrew Hoy AUS) 48.4
2. Lord Killinghurst (Andrew Nicholson NZL) 53.4
3. Master Monarch (Andrew Hoy AUS) 53.6
4. The Psephologist (Bumble Thomas) 56.6
5. Shear H2O (Leslie Law) 61.6
6. Tangle Man (Polly Stockton) 63.2
7. Look Sharp III (Sasha Harrison IRL) 64.0
8. Mr Smiffy (Andrew Nicholson NZL) 65.8
9. Internet (Kate Hewlett NZL) 71.0
10. Limestone Rise (Polly Jackson) 72.2