The New Zealand eventing power couple have stolen a march over the rest of the field, filling the first two places ahead of cross-country.
Jonelle and the 14-year-old McClaren briefly grasped the top spot on Friday afternoon, with high marks for their halt and canter work adding sparkle to their quality test. Their score of 24.4 marked a new international best for the pair as a combination.
But six horses later, Tim and the 12-year-old Cardenio gelding sprang ahead to take a commanding two-penalty lead and head the leaderboard with a mark of 22.1. The means both Prices end today with a new international best – this score is a new five-star best for Tim, who achieved his former record of 23 at Pau in 2020 aboard the legendary Wesko.
The achievement is all the more impressive given this event is the first five-star for the talented Millstreet winner Falco, owned by London 2012 cross-country course designer Sue Benson.
“It’s a place we like to bring a first-timer because it can teach them a lot,” said Tim, adding he was delighted with the horse.
“To start off with a good dressage was a treat that I wasn’t quite expecting. He really just stayed relaxed today, he’s a bit of a showman so I was lucky enough to have him nice and relaxed in the ring.”
William Fox-Pitt and Little Fire, the second of his two rides at the French CCI5*, are hot on the couple’s heels and stand best of the Brits after the first phase. The duo were the penultimate combination into the arena and are 0.1 of a penalty behind Jonelle on 24.5.
That narrow margin sets the tone for the crunch-end of the leaderboard after dressage with the top 21 combinations all on sub-30 scores. In fact, there are 13 horses spanning the top “11”.
The results list also has a strong international feel. While Brits make up half of the 46 entries, there are seven different flags in the top 10.
Ireland’s Friday lunchtime leaders Padraig McCarthy and Fallulah are in provisional fourth on 24.9, with Australia’s Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend fifth on 26.2 and five-star debutante Sofia Sjoborg holding sixth for Sweden aboard DHI Mighty Dwight on 26.8.
Bubby Upton and her second ride, Cannavaro, were the second highest-placed British combination of the day, slotting into seventh (27.1).
Sidney Dufresne and Swing De Perdriat carry the torch for the home side in eighth on 27.2, which they share with Brazil’s Carlos Parro (Calcourt Landline). Izzy Taylor and Fonbherna Lancer is 0.1 of a penalty behind in 10th (27.3).
Thursday’s overnight leaders of William Fox-Pitt (Oratorio) and Ailsa Wates (Woodland Persuasion) were joined on their shared score of 27.4 and are joined by New Zealand’s Madison Crowe (Waitangi Pintrest) to all hold provisional 11th.
Defending champion Laura Collett and the rising star Dacapo showed some spectacular work, including a perfect 10 for their final halt, but mistakes in their flying changes denied the pair a higher placing at this stage. The pair are still in touch, taking provisional 16th on a score of 28.2 – less than a handful of time-penalties behind the leaders.
The 2019 winner Tom McEwen, who like Laura is riding a first-timer at this level, is also not far behind. Tom and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare CHF Cooliser are in 20th position on 29.6.
The cross-country is set to start at 1.30pm local time (12.30pm UK time) tomorrow (Saturday, 30 October).
View Pau Horse Trials dressage results.
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