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Fox-Pitt Leads After Cross Country at Kentucky 3-Day


By Kate Green
William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Parklane Hawk moved up a place and gained a slender advantage over Dressage leaders Alison Springer (USA) and Arthur, who clocked 3.2 time penalties across the country, and New Zealander Jonathan Paget who was lying third on Clifton Promise.

Fox-Pitt, who won the event in 2010 on Cool Mountain, put in an exhibition round to finish seven seconds inside the optimum time of 11 minutes 14 seconds. “I was aware the course was causing problems, but you have to believe that you’re riding a good horse with good form,” he said afterwards. “Parklane Hawk gave me some ride. He is a Thoroughbred [by Danehill] and has raced in New Zealand, so I had an advantage. I was down on time to begin with, but being 15 seconds down on a horse like that is irrelevant and I knew I could creep back up again. He can be quite feisty and one or two of our turns were a bit untidy, but I’m being fussy. He was damn good!” 

Fox-Pitt has no margin for error over Springer, who rode an inspired Cross Country round on the 13-year-old Arthur, a beautiful chestnut horse who has had mixed fortunes at CCI4* level.

 “I’ve learned to read my horse and make decisions,” said an elated Springer afterwards. “He’s a gift to ride because it’s all so within his ability. We’ve been together a long time. I love this horse and have looked after him, and thank goodness, because we’ve got to get it right some time!”

Fox-Pitt has even more to worry about from Paget, who reveals that Clifton Promise has only had four rails down in his entire CCI4* career. “I figure he’s due to go clear again,” promised Paget. “He’s a real warrior.”

Course Designer Derek di Grazia (USA) had increased the emphasis on maintaining a route through the complexes, and riders soon found that when things didn’t go to plan, the lines could be unforgiving.

Cross country day got off to a nervous start when the first three riders on course failed to finish. Pathfinder Andrew Nicholson (NZL) retired Calico Joe after two refusals and a broken frangible pin at the rail into the coffin (fence 9a), the fence riders were most anxious about. Karen O’Connor (USA) suffered a dunking when she was unseated from Veronica at the narrow fence in the first water complex, and Becky Holder (USA) parted company with the veteran Courageous Comet, when he swerved at the corner after the Normandy Bank.

Fox-Pitt was the only Briton left in the competition after California-based James Alliston retired Jumbo’s Jake with two run-outs and had a fall with Parker. Lucy Wiegersma, eighth after Dressage, had a rider fall when Granntevka Prince twisted over the right-hand corner fence after the Normandy Bank. Oliver Townsend retired the mare Pepper Anne after two refusals at the double of hedges and ditches at fence 27.

Andrew Hoy (AUS), who had already incurred 21 penalties for knocking the frangible pin at 9, ran into trouble at 27 when Rutherglen jumped down into the ditch at the first hedge and stopped.

Clark Montgomery (USA), third after Dressage on Loughan Glen, also hit the frangible pin at 9, and was later eliminated. There were 32 finishers from the 54 Cross Country starters with 21 clear rounds, seven of which were inside the optimum time.

Karen O’Connor (USA) cemented her relationship with new ride Mr Medicott and was in fifth place on an equal score with Boyd Martin (USA) on his second ride Otis Barbotiere. “He’s an experienced horse and he stays formatted in his body, which is nice to ride,” said O’Connor of the chestnut gelding which was originally produced in England by Nigel Taylor before winning an Olympic gold medal in 2008 at eight years old with Frank Ostholt (GER). “He’s so scopey and big in his stride that you never have a moment’s worry about some of his decisions when he takes strides out.” O’Connor is having help with stadium jumping from her pupil Marilyn Little-Meredith (USA), who switched to Eventing from Jumping two years ago. “So I’m hoping for a better result tomorrow,” said O’Connor.

The versatile Marilyn Little-Meredith had a dream first CCI4*. She posted the first clear of the day, in relaxed style, for just 4.4 time penalties on RF Rovano Rex, in tenth place, and was also seventh after cross country on RF Demeter. Her two clear rounds put her in the same bracket as her far more experienced compatriots Phillip Dutton (USA), in 11th and 12th on Mighty Nice and Fernhill Eagle, and Boyd Martin (USA), who is also eighth on Remington XXV. As a result, Marilyn Little-Meredith is now in line to win the coveted HSBC Training Bursary for the best CCI4* debut, worth $1,000.
Results (after Cross Country)
1 William Fox-Pitt/Parklane Hawk (GBR) 41.3 + 0 = 41.3
2 Alison Springer/Arthur (USA) 39.8 + 3.2 = 43.6
3 Jonathan Paget/Clifton Promise (NZL) 44.8 + 0 = 44.8
4 Boyd Martin/Otis Barbotiere (USA) 51.0 = 0 = 51.0
5 Karen O’ Connor/Mr Medicott (USA) 44.2 + 6.8 = 51.0
6 William Coleman/Twizzel (USA) 51.3 + 0 = 51.3
7 Marilyn Little-Meredith/RF Demeter (USA) 49.0 + 2.8 = 51.8
8 Boyd Martin/Remington XXV (USA) 45.3 + 7.6 = 52.9
9 Andrew Nicholson/Qwanza (NZL) 55.8 + 0 = 55.8
10 Marilyn Little-Meredith/RF Rovano Rex (USA) 53.7 + 4.4 = 58.1

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