Young Frenchman Thibault Fournier (pictured) sits at the top of the leaderboard after the cross-country phase at Les étoiles de Pau CCI*** today (27 October).
The 23-year-old was just one of four riders to achieve the optimum time of 11min 6sec riding the 12-year-old gelding, Siniani De Lathus. They stormed around the Pierre Michelet-designed track to finish on their first phase score of 25.5, rising from fifth place overnight.
“I was doubtful at the start of the day how my horse would cope as it was his first time at this level,” said Thibault, who finished bang on the optimum time despite taking a long route at an influential double of triple brushes near the end of the course.
Gemma Tattersall, who was third last to leave the start box, was another to finish inside the optimum time aboard Clive Smith’s 11-year-old Pamero 4 (pictured below), which is good enough to see them rise 11 places after the dressage to now sit in second. They stopped the clock with 10 seconds to spare, completing on their 29.9 dressage, which gives Thibault a fence in hand in the final showjumping phase tomorrow.
“Pamero 4 gave me the most wonderful ride round today — he was straight and listening and his jumping was incredible,” said a delighted Gemma.
Izzy Taylor, who had no less than three rides in this class, is in third on Be Touchable, who was having his first crack at this level. They were five seconds over the optimum time, adding two time-faults to their 28.8 dressage.
“Be Touchable was very good at all the combinations, making it feel smooth until we had a moment at the second part of a double of brushes at 31AB where I nearly went out the side door,” explained Izzy.
Ros Canter, who was in second overnight riding Zenshera, has slipped to fourth due to 7.2 time-faults. This horse, who was seventh here last year, looked a little tired towards the end of the course, but Ros nursed him home.
Oliver Townend and Cillnabradden Evo, who led the dressage, were eliminated after a fall at the first of two angled hedges at fence 31A. Both horse and rider walked away.
From 60 starters there were 26 clear rounds and a total of 38 completions.
Germany’s Andreas Ostholt, who was in third after the first phase with Corvette 31, had a run out at a narrow fence at the bottom of a bank at fence 14. They completed the course but have slipped out of contention.
The final horse inspection gets underway at 9am tomorrow morning (28 October).
Keep up-to-date with all the latest news and reports from Pau via horseandhound.co.uk, and don’t miss the full report in next week’s magazine (1 November)