It is all change at the top end of the leaderboard following a drama-filled cross-country phase at Pau CCI4* this afternoon (Saturday 28 October).
Sarah Bullimore leads the British charge after pulling off three brilliant clear rounds and she has three horses inside the top 10 going into the final showjumping phase: Reve Du Rouet in third (pictured above), with Lilly Corinne in eighth and Valentino V tenth.
The host nation is out in front, though, with Astier Nicolas — winner here in 2015 on Piaf De B’Neville — taking the lead courtesy of a clear round inside the time on Molakai. He celebrated by saluting to a cheering crowd as he galloped through the finish flags (below).
Fellow French rider Gwendolen Fer lies second with Romantic Love.
“My horses are all very different, which makes it interesting trying to remember which is which when you’re hopping off one and on to another,” smiled Sarah. “I’ve had an amazing day; they all jumped so well.”
Ros Canter and Zenshera, second after dressage, have slipped to sixth after picking up 11.6 time-penalties around Pierre Michelet’s 32-fence cross-country track.
“Zenshera has come here with great cross-country form and I’m disappointed I wasn’t quicker,” said Ros. “I was a little bit protective at the beginning [of the course].”
There were 62 starters and 39 finishers, 28 of these recording clear rounds. Only two horses achieved the 11mins 10secs optimum time and both were French: Molakai and Cedric Lyard’s Qatar Du Puech Rouget, who sits in fourth overnight.
Australia’s Samantha Birch pulled off a clear round that was quick enough to move Hunter Valley II up to fifth, while Alex Bragg is the third British rider to appear inside the top 10 after a clear aboard Zagreb, seventh.
New Zealand’s Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo occupy ninth.
Top names crash out
There were shock exits for several top names, including dressage leader Shane Rose, whose Rio team bronze medallist CP Qualified fell at fence 11abc, Haie.
The grey landed in the ditch when negotiating the b element, the first of two brushes angled over a ditch.
Andrew Nicholson pulled up Qwanza, 11th overnight, when she picked up her second 20 penalties at this fence, while Mark Todd’s NZB Campino was also retired after refusing at the same obstacle.
The New Zealander shared third after dressage with Frenchman Maxime Livio but he, too, called it a day after Opium De Verrieres glanced off a corner at Bergerie-Pointe (7ab).
This second element was also the undoing of Mark’s first ride, Kiltubrid Rhapsody, who dropped down the order from fifth after running out.
Franky Reid-Warrilow’s Dolley Whisper matched Kiltubrid Rhapsody’s dressage score but they fell at 11c.
This fence was later removed from the competition due to one side of the ditch giving way.
Look at pictures of this tricky combination and several others here.
Lawrence Hunt suffered a heavy fall with Wie Donna’s Niieuwmoed two from home. The British rider was taken to hospital for examination.
American Boyd Martin quickly pulled up Cracker Jack when the grey suddenly went lame while re-entering the main arena near the finish line. The horse was subsequently put down.
The second horse inspection takes place at 9am tomorrow (8am BST) and, with less than a fence separating the top three horses, the final showjumping phase will be exciting.
Come back to horseandhound.co.uk tomorrow (Sunday) to find out what happens.
See the full leaderboard here.
Don’t miss the full Pau report in next week’s H&H, on sale Thursday 2 November.