Jock’s dressage leader, Frances Stead’s Clifton Promise (above), added just 0.4 of a time-penalty to hold his advantage, while Frances Stead and Lucy Allison’s Clifton Lush went clear inside the time to move up from equal 5th to 2nd.
Both horses were held on course in the region of Winners’ Avenue due to having blood on them — Clifton Lush hit his nose on his knee at the Elephant Trap at fence 6 and Clifton Promise bit his tongue — but both were allowed to re-start once they had been checked by vets.
“It was a little bit weird,” admitted the New Zealander. “It worked in my favour on Lush because he had a break and then got going again, but not with Promise as it was hard to get his attention back on the fences.”
If Jock can follow his Badminton win with victory here at Burghley, he will be set up a new Rolex Grand Slam challenge, with the possibility of scooping the giant cheque if he wins at Kentucky next spring.
His compatriot Andrew Nicholson went clear inside the time on Rosemary Barlow’s Avebury to move up to 3rd from 7th, but dropped from 3rd to 5th on Deborah Sellar’s Nereo with 2 time-faults.
William Fox-Pitt (Catherine Witt’s Parklane Hawk) held 4th and the best British position despite finishing 2sec over the 11min 24sec optimum time. Kiwi Jonelle Richards rose from 12th to 6th with Lucy Sangster and the Morices’ The Deputy, who had 1.2 time-faults.
There were just 3 clears inside the time — Clifton Lush, Avebury and Andrew’s first ride Calico Joe, who is in 8th. There are 7 New Zealand horses in the top 10, as Mark Todd is also 10th on Oloa.
“The course was nowhere near as big as some years, but it was very cleverly done to slow us down,” said Andrew. “That’s not easy with the new rule changes [which have increased the minimum distance at 4-star without increasing the permitted jumping efforts]. You had to be very alert and at the beginning the course you had to sit on your backside and ride, not glide along.”
40 horses recorded jumping clears from the 62 starters.
Brits Tina Cook and Nicola Wilson both had good rounds — Nicola held 9th with Opposition Buzz despite 7.6 time-faults, while Tina gave De Novo News a confidence-building first Burghley experience to move from 8th to 14th due to being 38sec over the time.
Problems on course
Among the well-placed riders who dropped down, German first-timer Ingrid Klimke and FRH Butts Abraxxas fell from 2nd to 7th due to 9.2 time-penalties.
Oliver Townend was 10th after dressage on Armada, but recorded 20 jumping penalties at the Land Rover Dairy Farm. And Germany’s Andreas Dibowski retired FRH Butts Leon, 5th equal in the first phase, early on course.
There were 9 falls, but no horses or riders were seriously injured. France’s Pascal Leroy was taken to hospital for precautionary checks after parting company with Minos De Petra at the planet fence at the Discovery Valley Outward at fence 5.
Buy H&H next week for full 18-page Burghley report, with full analysis, pictures of every cross-country fence and comments from Sally O’Connor, Lucinda Green and course-designer Mark Phillips.
RESULTS AFTER CROSS-COUNTRY
1. Jock Paget on Clifton Promise (NZL) 37.1
2. Jock Paget on Clifton Lush (NZL) 42
3. Andrew Nicholson on Avebury (NZL) 42.3
4. William Fox-Pitt on Parklane Hawk (GBR) 42.3
5. Andrew Nicholson on Nereo (NZL) 43.3
6. Jonelle Richards on The Deputy (NZL) 47.4