Today was cross country day for the CCI*** class and show jumping day for the CIC*** class. Heavy constant rain over night saw the cancellation of pony club competitions and the 6 bar competition, but luckly not the cancellation of the main event (otherwise the 2012 selectors would be in serious trouble!). Obviously for the children its devastating news but considering how the warm up arenas faired towards the end of the day it proved to be the right decision.
However, surprisingly the cross country course held up extremely well. The same can not particularly be said about the retail village which turned into a mud bath – luckily the mud was shallow and tacky and not sloppy, knee deep mud. But I think its fair to say that thanks to the weather the retailers saw and increase in sales of wellies, umbrellas and ponchos!
The time proved to be influential and quite hard to achieve early on in the day but Australian Sam Griffiths had no issues. He steered Paulank Brockagh round inside the time and only added 1.6 penalties to Happy Times score to finish the day in 3rd and 4th spots respectively.
Borough Pennyz a previous young horse champion with Italian Vittoria Panizzon, showed her cat-like qualities on course and finished the course with just 1.2 penalties to add to their score to lye in 13th over night.
Personally, I‘m not a huge fan of the French Cross Country style. I often find that they appear to chase the clock and it turns into everything or bust situation, again this is just my opinion but a pattern did seem to emerge when the only two riders who went clear for France both made the time but 4 riders failed to complete with just Didier Dhennin not supporting my theory after gaining 20 penalties.
I think it’s fair to say that the new partnership of William Fox Pitt and Chilli Morning is now well and truly confirmed after another textbook Fox-Pitt demonstration across the challenging Ian Stark designed cross country course. They go ahead to tomorrow with a 6.6 penalty lead over the French combinations of Sylvan Davesne and Oregon Du Coty.
My personal favourite round has to go to Rosie Thomas and the evergreen Barry’s Best, who is normally a Badminton favourite due to his reputation of moving up the placings after his cross country rounds! And he didn’t disappoint moving up 20 places to finish the day in 16th spot. Rosie’s encouragement to Barry though was fantastic, and she truly showed her emotions when cheering him on as they approached the final fence.
In the Under 25 section is currently the most closely fought and is currently being lead by Laura Collet and Noble Bestman, however with just 1.8 penalties more closely nipping their heals is the French rider Astier Nicholas. In this class Angus Smales proved his expertise across country with a nippy round to take third spot
Sole American representative Olivia Loiacono and Subway retired across country in the Under 25 CCI*** along with Nina Ligon and Jazz King.
In the CIC*** the show jumping proved to weed out the wheat from the chaff. Out of the 92 starters who went forward to the show jumping phase, only 14 managed a clear round with many clocking up double figure penalties.
The ever young Lenamore and New Zealander Caroline Powell appear to be placing one hoof forward for London 2012 selection with a perfect show jumping round that quite frankly made the difficult track look mediocre to move them up to 6th place.
Zara Phillips and High Kingdom ensured that the recent Royal Celebrations continued with a neat clear and may prove to be a dark horse for 2012 selection if they achieve a good cross country round tomorrow as they currently hold 3rd spot.
However, William Fox Pitt once again proves to be the man to beat, this time with Neuf Des Coeurs with just 3.3 penalties separating them from Mr Andrew ‘Stickability’ Nicholson and the stunning chestnut Nereo.
Unfortunately, the day was tarnished by the devastating news of two horse fatalities. Lead The Way ridden by Clea Phillips sadly fatally collapsed after jumping fence 13. Lead The Way was a favourite with many in the UK, he achieved three top 10 finishes at Burghley within the space of the last four years but was probably a horse that never got the recognition he deserved for his achievements.
Jagganath ridden by Michael Jackson sadly also fatally collapsed after completing the cross country phase inside the time. Jagganath was an extremely promising young horse who’s best result was probably his 6th place at Blenheim last year.
It just goes to show how fragile these amazing creatures are, our thoughts as always go with all involved.