The first out, Tom Crisp with Cooleys Luxury, wasn’t hurrying but was going very competently clear, with the horse looking a touch deliberate at times but very scopey, until their campaign came to a halt at the skinny brush direct option in the water at the Land Rover Trout Hatchery, which proved to be on a tricky distance for many through the day, only a few making it look easy.
Paul Sims and Glengarnock slipped slightly at the Trout Hatchery but stayed clear, only to have a frustrating run out at the triple bar skinny after the Leaf Pit drop.
Oliver Townend, riding with huge determination, brought Dromgurrihy Blue home clear, but a minute over the time. Frenchman Arthur Duffort was the next to manage a clear, his trip through the Land Rover Trout Hatchery being eventful but without penalty, but with 50.8 time. Austin O’Connor’s Balham Houdini didn’t look ‘at the races’ today, and he wisely called it a day the moment he had problems at Capability’s Cutting. Roo Fox’s Fleet Street saved her bacon a few times until the big upright gate at the Maltings, where a deep spot gave him little chance and they had what looked like a very heavy fall.
Tim Price’s Bango wibbled at the Leaf Pit drop, drawing a foot right back and incurring an unlucky 20 penalties, to ruin their round. The horse hadn’t looked 100% committed at times but Tim’s determination and experience got him round, and he’ll have learnt a lot from it.
Débutante Katie Barber was having a great round until landing all awry and slipping off after her genuine Woodfield Ria ballooned the brush parallel (as many did) at Discovery Valley, a very disappointing end to what was looking certain to be a clear.
Andrew Hoy was the next to manage a clear round, his Rutherglen however racking up 26.3 time penalties. The time was starting to look totally impossible.Elisa Wallace for the USA managed a heroic clear with her Simply Priceless, taking some long routes but growing in confidence as they progressed, but with 30.4 time.
Abi Boulton did a beautiful job, her only jumping penalties being a muddled refusal at the third Lakeside Hedge, after he absolutely ballooned the second, but theirs was another slow round.
With about 20 horses gone, Andrew Hoy was still the fastest, with, wait for it… 23.6 time penalties. Paul Tapner had a slightly eventful round, Up In The Air having nearly incurred penalties when Paul made a lightning-fast decision to go long at Capability’s, but looking great through the Maltings. They had a drive-by at the brush corner at the Land Rover Trout Hatchery, and then a fall which put them out of the competition and sent a painkillered-up Paul to hospital for an examination of his shoulder (fortunately no bones broken, but no hope of riding his second horse Vanir Kamira, guttingly.)
Mark Kyle expertly guided Jesmond Justice round clear, but with 37.2 time, after a very long hold while Tapperz’ fall was dealt with.
Sarah Bullimore and Reve du Rouet started a purple patch, five consecutive clears, but their riders all really looked as if they had to work for it, nobody made it look easy! Dan Jocelyn, back at Burghley after a 5 year absence, was the fastest of them, with 15.6 time, and Bettina magicked a clear from Designer 10, another to clearly grow in confidence as he went around, capitalising on her excellent dressage, adding 19.2 but still good enough to lead at that point.Jonelle Price set out on Classic Moet, who has proved her speed before, in vile weather, and skipped round for only 1.6 time, just 4 seconds over the Optimum Time. They made the Rolex Combination and the Land Rover Trout Hatchery look ridiculously easy, and this proved to be the fastest round of the day.
Bill Levett did a fantastic job on Improvise, but was another to rack up the time penalties, 50 seconds over.
Pippa Funnell set out on Second Supreme, and was riding as well as I have ever seen her, having a fantastic round, until jumping strongly over the log into the Land Rover Trout Hatchery, where the horse just totally lost his feet and in spite of valiantly trying to stay together, it all came apart when they got to the far bank, leaving Pippa sitting in the mud and chatting ruefully to the fence judge!
Denis Mesples was having a good round and managed to make the Land Rover Trout Hatchery look simple, but his Oregon de la Vigne ballooned the brush parallel at Discovery Valley so much that he had no hope of making the direct route of the last part, but unfortunately tried it, marring their round.Oliver Townend, riding three round today, set out again on Samuel Thomas II, working hard and having a couple of sticky moments, including when going long at the Land Rover Trout Hatchery, but he managed to keep the pedal to the metal and came home clear with only 9.6 time, fourth fastest today. Charlotte Brear, our blogger, had just one unlucky stop at the Land Rover Dairy Mound, and avoided further penalties at the Rolex Combination due to lightning-fast decision making. Louise Harwood guided Mr Potts round clear but with 41.6 time and the odd sticky moment.
Sonja Johnson’s and her gorgeously flashy pony type Parkiarrup Illicit Liason, who kind of stole my heart, had a nightmare at the Rolex Combination corner, guttingly ending their round.
Next out was Toddy, who went long at the Dairy Mound but made the Rolex Combination and the Land Rover Trout Hatchery look ridiculously easy. Their 16.8 time were surprising but it was still good enough to push them up the leaderboard.
Cedric Lyard showed typical French style, with long reins, trust and extreme determination, to guide his classy Cadeau du Roi round clear, only 13.6 time proving very useful today.
Phillip Dutton used all his experience to bring Fernhill Fugitive home clear, but was another to be surprisingly slow, with 38.8 time penalties.
Matt Glentworth’s Ultimatt wins my personal Horse Most Coveted award, the scopey bay sometimes going on whatever stride HE chose. Unfortunately he tired towards the end (although he still had lots of jump left by the looks of it) and the Ground Jury had him stopped a couple of fences from home.
The next few didn’t get far, Nilson Moreira da Silva’s Muggle looking rather overawed by the crowds, for example. But Tina Cook and Star Witness completed a very classy clear, although a slight slip at the Land Rover Trout Hatchery made some of us gasp as Tina was slightly unseated. She is always so great under pressure, brilliant at knuckling down and getting it done, and I can’t have been the only one thinking that she just reinforced my belief that TeamGB were utterly crazy not to substitute her in at Rio the moment they saw the XC course!
Libby Head’s good round on her gallant old TB Sir Rockstar came to an unlucky end with a horse fall at the Cross Rails over the big ditch, gutting as they were going brilliantly.Sarah Cohen showed us vintage ‘Cutty’ in action, with a fantastic round on her good campaigner Treason, clear with 24.4 time. Treason was one of a few to jump over the very highest part of the brush at the Lakeside Hedge into the water, and probably the only one who didn’t look remotely fazed by it!
Ben Hobday’s usual boldly ridden round on Ramilo came to a horrid end at the Land Rover Dairy Mound, where the horse seemed to pick up a stride early at the spread, giving Ben a nasty fall.
Sam Griffiths was next out with his veteran campaigner Happy Times, bidding for a record sixth completion, and theirs was definitely the Hard Luck Story of the day. Looking fantastic, they had a stirrup snap (the under-foot part coming right off) very early on (possibly at fence 4?) and although Sam tried valiantly to carry on, he wisely gave up at fence 14, retiring while still clear. There are no words for that kind of disappointment. I hope they will be able to re-route to Pau.Alex Bragg guided Redpath Ransom around clear (for a first-timer to have two horses entered must be a record, although unfortunately he was unseated from his classy Zagreb earlier in the day) but steadily, and then we had one of the best rounds, Nereo and Andrew Nicholson making it look smooth and easy. Blyth Tait looked back to his very best on the lovely Bear Necessity V, who might look like a hunter but is as class an act as his rider, Gubby Leech on Xavier ran past the tricky triple brush in the Land Rover Trout Hatchery, marring their good round, and then Caroline Powell with Onwards and Upwards was another Kiwi to complete a great clear.
Andrew Hoy’s second ride, The Blue Frontier, was going well until coming to a watery end after the log in the Land Rover Trout Hatchery, and then Olivia Wilmott, whose vocal encouragement had been working till that point on Cool Dancer, frustratingly fell off at the same place.
Shane Rose and Virgil had an eventful round but were clear, including making Discovery Valley look ridiculously easy, until breaking the frangible at the Cross Rails, incurring 11 penalties.
Tim Price set out meaning business on Ringwood Sky Boy, and his speedy clear was a treat to watch, particularly the Land Rover Trout Hatchery.Rookie Becky Woolven went clear next with Charlton Down Riverdance, no small accomplishment on a day like today, but fellow rookie Stacey Shimmons’ Orions Promise looked totally shell-shocked, banking fence 3 and then refusing to have anything to do with fence 4, when the Ground Jury intervened after two stops.
Chris Burton, the dressage leader, set out under huge pressure, and rose to the challenge, bringing Nobilis 18 home with just 3.2 time to keep his lead by a massive 11.5 penalties over Tim Price in second place. Burto’s round was fantastic, his foot-perfect trips through the Land Rover Dairy Farm, upright gate to skinny brush at the Maltings, and Discovery Valley, being particularly impressive.Harry Dzenis and Xam managed a good clear, but not quite speedy enough to trouble the top of the leaderboard, and Holly-Payne Caravella did a classy job with Never Outfoxed to rise 33 places up the leaderboard. Last out, the indefatiguable Oliver Townend, was having a slightly chancy round but clear all the way till Discovery Valley, when he was another to be slightly caught out by an enormous jump over the brush parallel, and couldn’t make the turn to the direct route at the final part in time. He retired immediately.
So, that’s it. Only 28 clear rounds from 68 starters, well below the 50% clears which a Course Designer would aim for. Captain Mark Phillip’s comments on that are in my report from the post-XC Press Conference, HERE. A very influential day’s cross country, with a lot to play for tomorrow. Good Luck to all those who are still standing, and I sincerely hope that those who had falls are not too sore.
All photos copyright Katie Neat Photography. Huge thanks to her for standing in the driving rain for many hours today to get fantastic photos for us.