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Saturday, September 01, 2007  •  17:31 GMT

Andrew Nicholson on Lord Killinghurst

Andrew Nicholson on Lord Killinghurst

EXPERIENCE LEADS THE WAY

Time Penalties for Clayton Fredericks and Nullabor meant that New Zealander Andrew Nicholson retained the lead he set earlier this afternoon on Lord Killinghurst, at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

Andrew and Robin and Nicola Salmon’s 16-year-old, a regular Burghley campaigner, sits at the top of the leaderboard, first of fifty cross-country completions. William Fox-Pitt with Parkmore Ed now take second place while Polly Stockton and Tom Quigley who produced one of the seven clear-rounds inside the time, move up into the top three.

Lord Killinghurst, who has been third here on three previous occasions knows his way round the course more than most. “He knows only too well where he is and tried to pull himself up at the bottom of the Leaf Pit as he knows that is the nearest point to the old finish line and the stables,” said Andrew, who was aware that Lord Killinghurst might presume he was on the way home. “He soon gets himself going again though and of course it is great that he has produced another clear-round here although I think there have been bigger Burghley courses.”

William was surprised to find himself at the top of the leaderboard with Philip Adkins’ Parkmore Ed – contesting his first four-star event – the less experienced of his two rides. The 14-year-old, third at Blenheim last year added just 0.4 time penalties to his good dressage score. “I am very excited by him now – after completing a track like that. There were a few moments where he showed his inexperience – he was quite surprised by the Leaf Pit as suddenly the ground wasn’t there – but he came up with the right answers,” said William.

The fifteen-year-old Tom Quigley has been with Polly for several years and the pair has completed several three and four-star events including Lexington this Spring. “I had a great ride. The course walked huge but I stuck to my game plan and it worked,” said Polly.

As there is only the equivalent of one show jumping fence knockdown (four penalties) between the top four riders the competition is still wide open and while Clayton added time penalties to his leading dressage score he and Nullabor, in seventh place, are not far off the pace.

American Will Faudree has the honour of the biggest rise up the leaderboard – 48 places from 64th to 18th – with his own Antigua who wears the accolade of the oldest horse in the competition.

British rider Rosie Thomas and Barry’s Best was another high climber improving 41 places on their dressage score, after producing one of the seven penalty free clear rounds. Rosie and Barry have been in flying form this season. The combination was 11th in last month’s British Open Championship at Gatcombe, winning the prize for the best ‘owner/rider. “He is just an amazing cross-country horse – I think he sees the flags a mile away,” said Rosie who runs a small yard near Tenbury Wells. It was however not an auspicious start for Barry who was returned to stud as a yearling as he was so wild. “He came to us to be broken and it took us a year just to sit on him. However once he understood what we wanted he just went from strength to strength,” said Rosie who hopes to take him to Badminton next year.

Louise Skelton completed on both of her full-brother geldings joining the elite club of three riders that still have two horses in the competition. British rider Jo May in 25th place with Faere Vision is the best of the first timers and Harry Meade is at the moment the highest placed of the Under 25s with Midnight Dazzler.