British five-star debutante Bubby Upton has taken an early lead with a confident performance over the Pau Horse Trials cross-country course aboard her multiple youth medal-winning partner Cola.
The 22-year-old stopped the clock 11 seconds inside the optimum time of 11 minutes 50 seconds, adding nothing to her first day dressage score of 28.5
The trust between the two shone through their smooth, forward round. Bubby was able to capitalise on the early galloping stages, before keeping a flowing rhythm through the intense, twisting sections.
The 11-year-old gelding, owned by Bubby’s mother Rachel Upton, breezed into the arena for the final two questions on Pierre Michelet’s track with his ears pricked. He showed no signs of tiredness as he responded boldly to his pilot’s encouragement at the double of angled brush houses at 30ab and finished strongly, to huge pats from his rider.
France’s Sidney Dufresne and Swing De Perdriat, the highest-placed combination from the home side after dressage in eighth, enjoyed a clear cross-country jumping round with 4.8 time-penalties to sit provisionally second at this early stage.
Pathfinders Oliver Townend and Ridire Dorcha gave a class performance, with Sophie Adams’ scopey gelding adding 4.4 time-penalties to their dressage of 27.8 to sit third provisionally on a score of 32.2.
The course is riding well on the whole and the time is proving achievable. At these early stages, two combinations have crossed the finish line inside the optimum – Bubby and also fellow Brit David Doel aboard Carneyhaugh Rua.
Faults have so far been throughout the Pau Horse Trials cross-country course – Izzy Taylor and her first ride Ringwood Madras were caught out by the angled brush at 5b and opted to pull up several fences later. Ailsa Wates and Woodlands Persuasion stopped at the brush after a step up at 27b, while Danielle Dunn and Grandslam were within touching distance of home when they collected 20 penalties at the second part of the penultimate question at 30b.
William Fox-Pitt and Oratorio turned a circle in the water at 10ab, adding 20 jumping and 13.2 time-penalties to their first phase score of 27.4.
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