The 11-year-old, who belongs to Lucinda, her brother Angus Murray and Richard Ames, was the only horse to break the 40 barrier and produced an uphill, smart test.
“He’s good in the brain and I’ve had lots of comments on how he’s beginning to look more powerful,” said Lucinda. “I probably need to start trusting him more and not work him so hard — he went better this morning. I’m used to little feisty ones [who need a lot of work].”
William Fox-Pitt retains 2nd with the overnight leader, Catherine Witt’s Seacookie (41.5), and as the final competitor today took 3rd on 42.2 riding the Hon Teresa Stopford Sackville’s Cool Mountain. He also lies 4th equal on Neuf Des Coeurs, owned by the Skinners and Halls, with Andrew Nicholson on the same score (43.2) with Deborah Sellar’s Quimbo.
“It’s special to have him back,” said William after his ride on the 2010 world individual silver medallist Cool Mountain, who had a leg injury after winning team bronze at the 2011 Europeans and has then had “silly niggles” this year. “The atmosphere can get to him — although he’s a relaxed horse normally he can get muddled in the arena, but not today.”
Speaking about his 3 horses, William praised British eventing dressage team trainer Tracie Robinson for her help and added: “They’ve all given me their all in the dressage.”
William is recovering from “trapping something in my lower back” on his first horse on the cross-country at Le Lion d’Angers and physio Jenny Hummel has accompanied him to Pau.
Lucy Wiegersma produced the best test today until the final session, scoring 43.8 to finish the day in 6th with Christopher and Sarita Perkins’ Simon Porloe.
“He was more submissive and relaxed than at Malmö,” said Lucy, referring to her British team debut this summer, which ended in a fall. “He was so souped up for that — he’d been primed and saved. Since then I’ve been trying to make sure everything was tickety-boo so I’ve run him quite hard this autumn, which I think quite suits him.”
Although the start of the cross-country course is, by general consensus, more inviting than in recent years, riders believe Pierre Michelet’s track will be testing. With an optimum time of 11min 48sec, it is also a long course and the weather in the south of France is hot at the moment so endurance may be a factor.
“There are endless super skinnies everywhere — you’ve got to be awake and your horse has got to be awake,” said William. “Hopefully I’m riding 3 experienced horses who will look for the flags, but it will be harder to eye them up when the course is packed with spectators. It’s not too difficult physically, but will be mentally tiring for them.”
Lucinda added: “You can get bigger courses — such as at Badminton and Burghley, where every fence is maximum height or width — but this has skinny after skinny in a row. There are a lot of fences where you can make a mistake.”
Tomorrow’s CCI4* cross-country starts at 12.15pm local time (11.15am British time).
Log back on for more updates from Pau over the weekend. Full report in H&H next week, out 31 October.
Pau CCI4* results after dressage
1. Lucinda Fredericks on Flying Finish (AUS) 39.2
2. William Fox-Pitt on Seacookie TSF (GBR) 41.5
3. William Fox-Pitt on Cool Mountain (GBR) 42.2
4eq. William Fox-Pitt on Neuf Des Coeurs (GBR) 43.2
4eq. Andrew Nicholson on Quimbo (NZL) 43.2
6. Lucy Wiegersma on Simon Porloe (GBR) 43.8